Solving Customer Service Problems

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NEW YORK -- Your best customer just complained about an employee's phone manners. Or maybe it was the turnaround time on an order. Or maybe your Web site isn't very customer friendly. These are customer service problems crying out for a solution. But if you really want to address your service issues, forget a quick-fix approach. Your small business and your customers will be better off if you look at service from a holistic point of view, one that includes all your employees, your internal processes and your technology. Start with your company's attitude toward service _ it will help your employees when they deal with customers. "The whole atmosphere and culture of the company needs to be focused on creating a customer experience," said Judith Glaser, a New York-based organizational consultant and author of "Creating We." Glaser said that in too many companies, employees are focused on serving their bosses. These companies would be better off being "open to a larger way of thinking, where the customer is the center; everyone works with each other to deliver an experience for the customer," she said. Dealing with employee issues, even if they seemingly have no relation to customer service, will also help. Companies that are known for great service, such as the retailer Nordstrom Inc., "have this standard of customer service that exists to make employees feel empowered to make the best decision for the customer," said Craig Chanoff, vice president for client services at Blackboard Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based provider of educational software. Delivering good service needs to be an integral part of a business. "It's an ongoing thing that you do," said David Bianconi, president of Progressive Medical Inc., a Westerville, Ohio-based health care cost containment company. "You have to always be aware of that and focus on that." While often a dropoff in customer service can be a problem, sometimes it's part of growing pains, particularly at young firms. "A lot of...
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