Sadly, I leave some personal duties to the very last minute. One of them was renewing my car insurance. Car insurance in British Columbia is pretty much monopolized by ICBC (Insuracne Corporation of British Columbia), which is a crown corporation.
As I was thinking about automatically going back to an ICBC agent to renew my car insurance, but I remembered that there was another company that does optional car insurance. I was looking to save money, and figured if I was able to save 10% and it required me only 2 hours of work, then I would have earned another $50-75$ an hour for making a simple call. I called up Canadian Direct Insurance on the phone and this is where their great customer service kicked in.
The following real life example of what Kathy did will answer the question, “What is good customer service?”
Good Customer Service Comes from Within
Kathy was the customer representative that greeted me on the phone (after going though an automated system). She was cheerful, sounded confident, and listened to me and what I had to say about my car insurance situation and answered any questions I had.
During our conversation, I never felt like she was trying to rush me off the phone at any time. It was obvious she was happy at her job, loved chatting with people, and that friendliness was a big part of her personality.
I can always tell when someone greets me because it’s part of their job, but I felt that Kathy was being friendly because that was who she is, not because her bills depended on it.
I believe that in order for a company to have great customer service, you can’t train people to be in those positions. You have to be able to pick and choose the right people to begin with. This is why I think sometimes it’s important to be able to screen employees for their strengths and for organizations to look for people that display the right values before being hired.
There’s no doubt that my good friend, Greg Basham from ee voices, who does HR screening in the Asia Pacific would agree with 100%.
The best selling book, Strengths Finder 2.0 mentions that you can spend your time trying to improve people’s weaknesses or you can find a person that’s naturally talented at what they do and make it even stronger by adding the knowledge and skills to make them a master at their talent. Good customer service must come from a willingness to help others.
What is good customer service? A willingness to be helpful because a customer service agent wants to be helpful.
Talk about The Benefits to the Customer
For most people the immediate benefit of dealing with another car insurance company is to save money and there’s no doubt that that’s exactly what I was looking for. But when I gave her all the details of my car, she punched through all the details and told me that Canadian Direct would most likely not save money for on my insurance.
Kathy could have just punched the numbers and told me that I didn’t qualify and just hang up, but the truth is that wouldn’t have been considered good customer service. Instead, she told me in what specific types situations it that she would be able to save me money.
Within the conversation she graciously told me that if I could save money in the following situations:
1) If I insured a second vehicle that I would get 10% off.
2) If I had an hybrid vehicle that there would be additional discounts on insurance.
3) If it was a newer car, she was very certain she would be able to save me money.
Out of all my years insuring my car, I’ve never had a car insurance agent tell me how to save money. Most of it was just trying to sell me more insurance because it was only $5 more a month. It was nice to hear someone else that was going to try to do the opposite and save me money.
What is good customer service?
Good customer service is letting your customers or clients know how they can benefit from your product or service. Sometimes you lose the sale due to the fact that you couldn’t meet that customer’s number one priority.
That’s just part of business, but you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you’ve done the best you can for a customer that was interested in your service or product.
Always Make a Good Last Impression
When all is said and done, in customer service, it’s not your first impression that matters the most, it’s your last impression. Think about it, when you have a bad experience at a hotel it’s how the hotel responds to take that extra step to fix those issues that are what matter most, and that last impression is the one you’re most likely going to talk about.
I believe it was Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappo’s, that stated that the phone is probably the best place to deliver customer service. You have someone’s attention one on one, he’s generally not distracted if it’s a customer issue that’s quite serious, and it’s great place to create a more personal customer relationship.
Kathy was helpful and she took the time to build up the customer service relationship. She offered me her e-mail and phone number, when I was ready to make the switch to another vehicle. She also took my own information in case I called back to ensure that there was a customer record history.
And do you know where I wrote down the contact information for her, right on my insurance forms. This way when I’m ready to renew, I’m reminded to give her a shout.
What is good customer service?
It’s ensuring that you’re creating a great last impression that’s even stronger than your first impression.
You can do all the marketing and advertising in the world you want about how great your company is, but if you’re frontline staff can’t back a company’s public perception, then you might as well not do marketing at all. Take your customer service seriously, and think about using gamification to take customer service and sales to a new level. Your business is riding on it.