Delivering under pressure
A LinkedIn strategy I learned worked and landed me a meeting with a potentially big client. I was prepared for my meeting the night before; all that was left was to stop by the big office supply store and pick up my presentation. I leave early enough because stuff happens and I refused to be late. Sure enough, I get to said big office supply store and the copy center expert tells me she has my job but there are three web orders ahead of me and it will be an hour before my job is done. I’m the only one physically in the copy and print area. Now I used to work for this big office supply store and have seen the customer service training video. Let’s just say she failed. She could have been the hero of my story but instead I tell her to cancel the order and I go to their loathed competition down the street.
I go to small copy place and overhear a somewhat heated conversation between customer and sales associate. I head straight to the computer rental area, unpack my laptop and prepare to print. Well you can’t do that anymore. So I save my work to a flash drive and I thought I would use their computer to print out my presentation. No such luck. Apparently the reason for the heated conversation at the front of the store is because the computers were offline and the customer’s job was not ready. She had a presentation that morning too and she was going to be late.
The sales associate was obviously having a bad morning. It wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet. My bet is she didn’t close the night before, had no idea the computers were down and that a customer’s job didn’t get done. She kinda just walked into chaos that morning. The disgruntled customer and the frazzled sales associate both saw me when I came in. The sales associate said nothing as I walked passed her headed to the non-working computer rental area.
The associate saw me headed to the computer rental area and could have stopped me and told me the computers were offline. That’s something I would have liked to know. Which leads me to ask, how do you deliver excellent customer service under pressure?
Training, training, training
The customer service training video I watched at the big office supply store would not have prepared a copy center expert for what I experienced yesterday. There has to be training for when the process breaks down. It’s also obvious that a crucial conversation didn’t happen the night before at the small copy place. Someone seriously dropped the ball and left a huge mess for the poor associate opening the next morning.
Practice, practice, practice
Leave a person in the back break room to watch a customer service training video and you risk them doing other things than watching the video. It’s good to practice with those who will represent you in the market place. Play out those worse case scenarios and how to deliver under pressure. And do it often. Empower representatives so they remain in control. You won’t win every time…some customers refused to be helped but at least your rep will know they were prepared and did their best to remedy the situation.
Part of the culture
Providing excellent customer service has to be a part of a company’s culture. It can’t be disseminated only through a training video in the break room. Employees must see upper management deliver that same excellent service under pressure too. It has to be who you are, not just what you do.
Thankfully I left early enough for my meeting and had time to stop by you guessed it the same big office supply store right by the client’s office. This time, the copy center expert was able to get my job done, even gave me a free copy of my presentation and I made it to the meeting on time. I won’t go on record and say I won’t go to either of these establishes every again. I am however looking at upgrading my color printer and buying my own binding equipment.