Keys to great customer service: be kind, listen, act fast and ask the right people!

Great customer service is definitely not a thing that only your grandparents remember. Across the world, small businesses are trumping the competition in the time-honored way of customer satisfaction. A couple of weeks ago, I was told by a friend about his experience that solidified this even more. I noticed several key things this customer service rep did to really go above and beyond, and I want to share them with you.

A friend of mine was on GreenMarket.com, buying up some vitamins to refill his supply. When he had about $40.00 worth of items in his cart, he got pulled away from his computer. He was gone maybe 15 minutes, and when he returned, his session had timed out, thus removing all the items in his cart and forcing him to start over. He grumbled his way around to starting over when one of Andy, one of GreenMarket’s reps, popped up to see how he was doing. My friend took the time to explain what had just happened, and what followed was one of the most awesome examples of customer service I’ve seen in recent memory. If your business is looking for ways to turn around a sour experience, you should all try to be more like Andy. Here’s what Andy did:

Andy asked and then listened.

Most of us get annoyed by the CSR that repeatedly interrupts us when we’re browsing the stores at the mall. Sometimes it seems like they have a hard understanding it when we say, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” The important part to making this helpful CSR actually helpful is to be available at the right time. Part of it might have been luck, or maybe they’d noticed that my friend had been on the site a long time. Either way, Andy came in an opportune moment to help the customer when they needed it. Andy didn’t point him to the right aisle or give him an unsolicited opinion. Andy just asked, and Andy listened.

Andy was knowledgeable.

Probably one of the most surprising things about Andy was that he was not only helpful and listening, he actually knew what the heck the guy was talking about. Rather than being fed some baloney line about “I’m sorry you’re having trouble with our site sir, blah blah blah” Andy said, “Yeah, I get that, the session length wasn’t as long as it should’ve been. Let me see what I can do about that.”

Andy acted fast.

My friend was incredulous when recounting his experience to me. He’s a web designer by trade, so he knows how to create the best experience for his users, and he had a few suggestions on what GreenMarket.com could do to improve. He told me later, “Micah, I had like 10 things I rattled off during this chat, and some of them were done when I refreshed the page!” Wow, guys. You know how to tell if a CSR is actually interested and paying attention to what you’re saying? They prove that they think your ideas are good by actually making the changes you’re asking for! And they did it very, quickly. Most of the time these things get put into a queue, there’s a helpdesk ticket created and they’ll get taken care of long after you’ve lost interest. But Andy talked to the guys who could make the changes immediately, and they started implementing them as quickly as possible. That tells me that they didn’t want to worry about losing one more customer because of stupid little but important things like font-size or how many products were on each page.

Andy rewarded his input.

My friend spent several minutes chatting with Andy, giving him what Andy determined to be some really valuable feedback that would help out a lot in the future. Rather than just send him off with a thanks and a link to fill out a survey, he comped my friends order, on the house. Hello – my friend just got his $40.00 order for free (including shipping) because he was honest and took the time to provide some valuable feedback!

He’s not the only one benefiting from this. Zappos.com will frequently reward their customers with free shipping or some other nugget of happiness to keep them coming back. Think of your favorite department stores – what are they doing to keep you coming back? They must be doing something right, else why would you keep returning?

I’m seriously hoping that this story gets shared and that GreenMarket.com gets recognized for folks like Andy. I’ve no doubt they’ll be around for a long time to come, should they keep treating their customers as well as they treated this guy. Fantastic job, guys!