The New Awkward

My sister recently divulged a call-center, customer service experience while following up to an online order.  Ladies, you can relate. Since the pandemic, those who previous kept their nail hygiene current with gel application probably found their hands less than visually appealing near mid-April.

With nail salons closed, my sister found herself with overgrown cuticles and paper-thin nails. Breaking and peeling, needing mineral strength, my sister knew of a polish to harden nails and enhance growth. There are two prominent brands that sell this product, and unfortunately, you cannot find it in stores.

My sister first shops at her go-to spot; Amazon. She is shocked by the price of the polish and hoping to restore nail strength with this magical elixir, she visits the manufacturer site to shop direct. The bottle is half the price found on Amazon and she makes her purchase. At check out, she is told to print the page and retain for her records.

She waits eagerly for the order. Waiting. Waiting. No arrival. Her nails look like hell, and she’s frustrated (I know first world problems, right?) She first contacts the company via email. No response. Not even acknowledgement of the email. Fortunately, the company is US based and she is able to call a customer service line.

My sister provides the order confirmation number to the agent and the agent communicates she won’t even look it up in the system. My sister is told, “Honey, I can tell that’s probably an official order number, but I can’t look it up. We are back logged. We have been back logged since February.  You’ll get that order when you get it.”

WOW?!?!  Awkward. First off, “Honey??”  Awkward.

No time frame for delivery?  Awkward.

No, “thank you for your business?” Awkward.

In customer service and client engagement, it’s always been about the experience.  It’s the experience that we talk about; good or bad.  It’s awkward that some haven’t figured that out. If the business focus is the client or customer, the business operations reflect this.  A business mindset focused on the client experience, results in memorable experiences that increase brand loyalty.

Knowing how to deviate from a process and determine when it helps, hinders, or alienates a client is key.  In a pandemic, we race to establish new patterns and routines. We find ourselves searching for the “new normal.” We sprint to sustain operations when deemed unessential. We battle to exist, forgetting the client experience.

The “new normal” is the “new awkward” when we become a finger-pointing, victimized culture that blames a pandemic for bad customer service. STOP! Choosing not to have a plan of action is a choice.  Choosing not to have a service recovery plan is also a choice. Choosing not to consistently acknowledge that our businesses exist because of the clients who purchase and subscribe to our products and services is arrogant, limited thinking, and a choice that leads to business fatality. In business, that’s always been “the normal” and it remains the norm now. How do we forget this? The new awkward is that poor customer service seems to be a result of a pandemic.

If your businesses offers products and services (which is pretty much everyone) please consider this. No matter the new norm, be certain your teams are focused on the client experience. Customer service is about engagement. Business is about relationships. Ask what the expectations is, then figure out a way to exceed it.

If your team is still establishing the “new normal,” consider the following:

    • Give eye contact and greet every client.
    • Use word selection carefully to provide an experience: ma’am, sir, may I, please, thank you, etc.
    • Extend appreciation to the client, guest, or customer. Make them feel valued.
    • Provide timelines to set expectations.
      • Advise and own up to delays, glitches, issues.
    • Address client concerns.
    • Have a recovery plan for when things go wrong.

These are the basics; elementary in nature, with a huge impact. May you establish your normal and divert from any awkward.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *