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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Gary May

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Leave A Number, Maybe We'll Call (And Other Customer Service Fables)

"I'll get right back to you". The biggest one we all hear, almost every day. As if the caring dried up as fast at the ink on your signature. Customer service has fluctuated as much as marketing dollars over the years, with the marketing dollars typically winning.

Simply put, while customer service is more important than ever for every website, marketing and CRM company, and "statistics" show more outbound calls than inbound calls, proactive support is just not what it should or could be. And with automotive retail moving at the speed it is, anything less than complete customer service is completely unacceptable. And commonplace.

The issues are more about mentality, approach and operation over that of scale, overhead and resources. Customer service is a mindset, not a skill set. One way to know what to expect is get things in writing. If you are signing a contract for deliverables (be it hardware, software, applications, etc.) you, as a business owner or operator, are entitled to a service level agreement. You can always demand things such as average resolution times, limit of billable hours for modifications, response time expectations and more.

Another oversight is the process of signing, through implementations, to operation. Too often, the business falls victim to a vendor's protocol, rather than the business being in the driver's seat. First have a single-point of contact. Next ensure that there is an understood "live" date that needs to be approved by both parties for billing to commence. Third, ensure support is in lock-step with both process and time requirements. More often than not, from cradle to grave you'll deal with more people than a presidential candidate will kiss to get into office.

Customer service is Kung Fu in a MMA world, a lost art. Businesses are counting on getting the type of attention and service that is deserved, especially based on claims of unparalleled practices. Number one, by the way, simply means in more stores. Not customer satisfaction. Not hours on phones. Not dedication to community. Maybe vendors should start being rated on outstanding/open tickets, measured on response times like businesses are for lead management and penalized for each time they nickle and dime their clients.

So leave your name and a number. Wait for the call back. More importantly, wait for the customer service you expect. Some day, your operation will be as important to your vendors as their is. Until then get what you deserve and nothing less.

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