Today in the place where I'm presently consulting, myself and one of the full time employees were pondering an issue where we were trying to fully identify a specific item. The research I'd done yielded almost no information, but I was able to find a picture of the item. Unfortunately, it was insufficient for what we needed.

Boro Park (Paulie's) Camera Shop 1976 Boro Park Brooklyn
Anthony Catalano via Compfight

She decided she was going to call the company to get more information, since their phone number was on what I'd printed out. Two minutes later she came to my desk and said that she'd been transferred to a voice mail system and that the recording told her it was full. So much for that.

This is strange to me only because of how often I've seen it happen with businesses. It's either that or you get a number that just rings and rings without anyone picking it up because either the answering machine doesn't work or, if it's a small business, they didn't think it was important enough for their business to have a way to record messages they could return later.

The thing I find about companies that exhibit bad customer service is that it often translates into poor employee morale because the leaders can only concentrate on one thing at a time, and that's usually the technical part of what it is their company does. It's often these people who will gripe and complain at different times that business is poor or that they put a lot of work reaching out to a potential client and how that client never bothered to follow up with them. Sigh...

I've never understood why so many companies don't understand how great customer service not only helps keep consistent business flowing, but can get customers to forgive them when something goes amiss, knowing that they'll be taken care of then and in the future. After all, no one's perfect.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post talking about how it seems that most restaurants get customer service right. They answer their phones, greet customers when they come in, are often very attentive to the needs of the consumers while they're in the restaurant, offering ideas on foods and desserts without being pushy, and always thanking you for your business when they leave you the bill, sometimes even writing a nice message on the bill. If the meal was pretty good haven't you found that how you were treated helps elevate your thoughts about the establishment?

How do you think the person I was working with today feels about the company we hoped to get information from? How do you think I felt about the company I'd taken my lawn mower to years ago who hadn't contacted us in 3 or 4 weeks and, when I tried to call, didn't answer the phone and didn't have an answering machine? And, when I showed up there told me my mower had been fixed 3 weeks earlier but they had been too busy to call and let me know, meaning they must not have needed my money?

When you answer these things, then think about how people within your own organization feel when you treat them as less than worthy of your time and attention, especially if they report to you? Just something else to consider while you're thinking about good customer service skills.