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Let me share a recent experience one of my colleagues related to me that really drove home the point of how good internal and external communications are essential to good customer service. Here’s the story he told me:

“At the urging of my dashboard light telling me to take my car in for an oil change and tire pressure check, I headed down the road. Call me optimistic, but I believed the service representative when she told me the car check-up would only take the usual 30 or 40 minutes. I had been to the service center many times and their “express service” never disappointed me before. No appointment necessary she said, “Just come in and we’ll have you out in no time”.

So in I went. Upon my arrival, the necessary service forms were completed and I handed over my keys and settled down to catch the latest news on the television in the waiting area. After 45 minutes, I checked on my car’s progress. “They are working on it” was the response. Another 45 minutes later and I made another check. “They are doing a computer update” was the response this time.

After yet another 45 minutes of waiting (by now, 2 hours and 15 minutes of waiting time for the 30 minute express service), I was quite annoyed. Another check with the service desk and I was advised that a second computer update was needed and that the car should be done as soon as they complete the download. Another 45 minute wait and my car was finally done. 3 hours of total waiting time that in the past would take no more that 1-hour.”

In the case above, the service rep at the desk was most likely not getting the entire picture from the mechanics working on the car. This is an internal critical communication link that should be correct and open. Many of us, as in the case of the service desk rep who is the “face to the customer”, have been in this type of dilemma in which we are unable to give our best customer service. Here are three suggestions to help improve on a difficult situation.

  1. Accurately communicate the picture internally and to the customer with some options and ask what works for them.
  2. If the customer decides to wait, give updates so the customer is kept informed of progress.
  3. Communicate honestly, don’t say something that you think the customer wants to hear like “they are working on it” when they are not.

Regardless of the business you are in or the position you hold, communicating effectively within your team is essential to good communications with the customer and will go a long way toward improving your customer service.

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