From time to time Rietmark receives complaints from our readers, about poor service from one of our advertisers. Although we long ago learned that there is always two sides to a story, it may be worthwhile to list some of the customer’s typical experiences, and learn from other’s mistakes.
1. I tried to phone or e-mail the advertiser, but got no response
Result: client gets frustrated and contacts another service provider
Ideas to solve this: many of our advertisers run small, owner-run businesses, and doesn’t have the manpower to cover all the bases. Problem is – without clients calling, your advertising and business may count for nothing. Perhaps you should consider appointing a receptionist or admin lady, you may even be able to outsource your reception to companies or other small businesses offering such services. Also make use of technology – laptops, computers, cellphones and tablets. And if you don’t know how, google for advice, or ask your tech-savvy friends or kids.
2. I made an appointment and he/she didn’t pitch up, or was late
Result – client feels let down and angry about lack of respect for his/her time
Ideas to solve this: Write up your appointments in written or online diaries and daily to-do lists, set yourself reminders and use that alarm function on your cellphone. Set your watch 10 minutes ahead of time, and get used to be 10 minutes early for appointments. If you really are running late, phone the client as soon as possible to explain, and ask if the client would prefer to reschedule to another day or time.
3. My washing machine is in for repairs, and two weeks later I still have no news about my machine
Result – client is worried that the business owner disappeared with the machine, or use it for spare parts
Ideas to solve this: Keep the communication channels open between you and your client. For instance, if you have a problem obtaining spare parts, phone your client and tell him about it, and how long you expect to wait for delivery of the spare parts. Work according to a schedule, so that you will always be able to give a progress report on any of the products in your care. Rather under-promise and over-deliver – for instance, promise you will be finished in 3 working days, and surprise the client with the finished job on the second day.
What to learn from this? Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and try to make your service as friendly, efficient and professional as possible. Use technology or outsource if necessary. And when you do make a mistake, acknowledge it and make amends.
Miemie Theron www.rietmark.co.za