Customer service – an option?


Creative Commons license via Flickr (RW Photobug)

This past week I’ve been reflecting upon the issue of customer service, based on several experiences that I’ve had with organizations involved in some of my duties as a music therapist.  What I am about to share shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  Just think of these tips as “gentle reminders”

Situation One

The first situation, and I am not going to name names, involved the ordering of new instrumental resources.  Company A always bends over backwards, offers a toll-free (North America) phone number, includes the name and contact information of the customer services agent who prepared my order, and ships materials promptly and safely.  If I EVER have a problem with an order, something is missing (once a drum beater was missing from an order), or my order doesn’t arrive within a few days of me placing the order, I can, and I have given them a call.  Their customer service is one of the things that keeps me coming back (as well as their prices).

Contrast this with Company B with whom I placed an order because I could not get the same product through Company A.  First, their published North American toll-free number “does not work from your [my] calling area”.  Secondly, a promised e-mail follow-up only came after I re-contacted them because I had not heard from them in over a week.  They do not accept “international money orders” but did give me the option of using PayPal (I don’t have a problem w/using PayPal but I do not hold the financial keys to my workplace kingdom hence this is not a possibility).  Who do you think I will use when it comes to my next order, if at all possible?

Lesson One:  Always be try to go above and beyond when it comes to customer service.

That includes all facets of your business from interaction with your clients and parents/siblings, communication with your clients, and payment arrangements.

Situation Two

I’ve also been eagerly awaiting the arrival of several resources.  Company C allowed me to order online and I received prompt confirmation of my order via e-mail. Great customer service, yes?  If would have been if the items in question had been shipped immediately too.  After placing my order (via credit card hence payment on their end should have been certain) and receiving confirmation of my order (in mere minutes via an e-mail address that I had supplied), I received another that e-mail saying that “Congratulations, your [my] order has been shipped”, five days after I placed the order.  WHAT???  (I’d use another three-letter acronym but that just wouldn’t be polite). This may sound like sour grapes but – you have had my money for 5 days and you are just now shipped my requested (& paid for) items?  We are not talking a very small, mom & pop operation here, the company in question is truly international.  Sounds like a clear way to make yourself money and alienate your customers.

Lesson Two   – money in hand should mean action from you!

As a music therapist, this might also include things such as learning a client’s “favorite song” before the next session and/or making sure the session notes are up-to-date (two things that I personally admit to being very bad at).

Situation 3

Finally, there is the customer service story behind Company D, my own company.  I recently started up piano lessons, as a subset of my music therapy business, and a secondary means of earning some added income.  The first lessons were Tuesday evening and today I followed up with the parents of my students today (Saturday).  I wanted to know how the students were doing and whether there were any questions or concerns, either student or parent, that I could address before next week’s scheduled lesson.  It didn’t take long and I felt good doing it.

Lesson Threegood customer service makes you feel good too!

Feel free to leave your comments and criticisms in the comment box below.  I will DEFINITELY read them with interest and respond as necessary!

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About John Lawrence

I am a music therapist by profession. I also enjoy backpacking, jazz, and photography.
This entry was posted in Building your business, Business/Self-employemtn, Contracted services, Customer service, Employee-based employment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Customer service – an option?

  1. Two more follow-up comments:

    1) While I’ve suggested that my comments were not meant to be “revolutionary”, I am also not suggesting that it is necessarily “easy” to follow these CS practices as a matter of course.

    2) Part of the impetus behind writing this blog posting was the fact that many of us MT-ists are/have been on holiday and will be soon starting back to a new “fall schedule”.

  2. Laura C. says:

    It’s amazing how going that extra inch can translate into a truly exceptional experience!

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