This will be the first in a series of many: Call Center Chronicles.
What happens when you call those toll-free numbers on the products you buy? What kind of reaction do you get from customer service?
But what would happen if I called up with some good feedback for the company? How would I be treated?
This week I called the Customer Service number on a box of Nabisco Barnum’s Animal Crackers.
My two minutes on hold made me question if I had the right number. There wasn’t any company-specific identification during my two minutes on hold.
Lesson #1: Your automated phone answering system must identify who you are.
A very nice native English speaker named Dale ended my wait and asked how he could help me.
Lesson #2: Speak your customer’s language.
I told Dale that I was calling to thank them for making a dairy-free animal cookie. Barnum’s Animal Crackers are the only ones we’ve been able to find that don’t have milk as an ingredient.
Dale listened patiently to my initial statement but needed to return to his script and asked: “Can I have your name so I can properly address you?”
Lesson #3: Address customers by name. If you don’t know it, ask!
Dale then asked to have the number that was imprinted on the box. After giving him the number, he confirmed it was Barnum’s Animal Crackers.
Lesson #4: Make sure both you and your customer are talking about the same product.
He then restated my comment about the dairy-free cookies and asked if that was right.
Lesson #5: Always confirm you understand what the customer has said by restating the concern or comments in your own words.
Outside the Script
I told Dale he was correct and that my son has dairy allergies. He empathized with me that dairy allergies can have big impact.
Lesson #6: Show interest in the customer’s issues, life, family, etc. Adding the personal touch makes you more human and approachable to the customer.
Dale told me he was glad to hear praise and would pass along my comments to the appropriate department. He then asked for my mailing address to associate with my feedback.
Me: “Why? Will you be mailing me anything?”
Dale: “If you like I can sign you up for our mailing list for recipes and product announcements.”
Me: “Not today.”
Dale: “Phone number or email address?
Me: “Not today.”
Lesson #7: Maintain a fair exchange of information. Nabisco didn’t really need my mailing address or contact information for any benefit of my own. When you ask for personal information from customers, there better be obvious benefit to them.
Dale thanked me for calling and we ended our conversation.
Lesson #8: Always thank customers for giving you feedback (good or bad). It will encourage more feedback and shows you’re actually listening.
While I was hoping for some coupons or some type of freebie, Nabisco did handle my call well and with respect. The lessons learned here apply not only to call centers but to any interaction with customers you may have.