Customer Service:  The Unspoken Contract

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customer-service-unspoken-contractFor me, customer service is an unspoken contract between myself and my clients.  I feel there are certain things my client has a right to expect from me, and some things that they have the right to never, ever receive from me.  The following are some of my top items in both categories.

Things clients/customers can and should expect from me:

  1. Timely responses to emails and voicemail. Even if I don’t have the answer yet, an email acknowledging a client’s inquiry and the status of a project, or simply that I will get back to them once I finish their project is paramount.  This lets my contacts know they have been heard, and that they are my priority.
  2. Politely worded and clearly written emails. This kind of communication has become an art form. Practice it often, and read your email twice before hitting the Send button!
  3. Help with questions and when appropriate, anticipating possible issues and potential problems.
  4. Being a partner in helping to manage their payroll process.  Our clients’ business is our business.
  5. An apology when appropriate, even if I wasn’t the one who caused the issue. Telling a client that I understand their concern and that I’m sorry for the error or inconvenience goes a long way toward working through an issue. Making an effort to understand their point of view and listen to their concerns makes a big difference.
  6. Taking the attitude of being their essential partner in the part of their business to which I contribute. If my clients believe I am invested in their business and have their back, so to speak, in making sure that my piece of their business is handled correctly, they know they can trust me.  And if they trust me with that portion of their business, why would they look to anyone else to provide that service?

Things clients/customers should never receive from me:

  1. Abruptness or curtness when responding to their inquiries.
  2. “That’s not my job.” A client should never hear these words, or feel that this is the case. Passing the buck about an inquiry or issue a client is experiencing is unacceptable.  I can always find the correct person to talk to for help in resolving an issue, and word my response in a way that tells the client that their problem is my problem too.
  3. Blame or abuse. I will never blame a client for a problem or communicate with them in an abusive way.  There are gentler ways to point out opportunities for process improvement, or where a situation could have been handled differently.  If I have the client’s best interest at heart and speak with tact and sincerity, we can solve the situation together without undue stress on the client.
  4. Refusing to listen and/or interrupting. Especially when a customer is frustrated or angry, interrupting or not listening to their concerns would be a failure on my part.  At some point, we all just need to vent and process through emotions or talk through a situation.  If I interrupt, even with a resolution, by failing to show them respect and investment, I become part of the issue instead of the solution.
  5. Responding defensively. Especially in an electronic communication, a client’s “tone” might make me feel defensive.  It’s human nature.  But I can’t know for a fact their mindset or intention they meant to convey, so if I respond in anything other than a professional manner,  I may make the situation worse or even cause an issue that wasn’t there.  Remember, not all people are good communicators, especially with the written word or when they’re under stress.

Good customer service is essential, and it’s the way we choose to do business.  If our clients and employees believe in Staff One HR, our team, and the services we provide, they will be with us for the long term.  We strive for top notch customer service and continue investing in our team to keep raising the bar.  The result?  Our clients can focus their time on growing their business while we handle the headaches!

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