What does 5 Star mean? You can ask 10 different people and receive 10 different answers. For the homeowner and association, it should mean expecting the absolutely highest level of service. And for the vendor and manager, it should mean delivering the finest, the best, the most impressive and unparalleled service. But what does customer service really mean? And what should an association expect?
Every individual has had an experience to draw ideas and solutions from – negative and positive. A negative experience is one that is always remembered and always discussed. In fact, a negative experience can bring up the same unsettling feelings as when the event took place, whether many years ago or just the other day. The result of a negative experience can result in the cancellation of any relationship with that vendor and a vow to never to go back. Even more impactful is the negative comments that can result. How many people heard the story? 10? 50? 100? People are willing to share negative comments more openly, and Facebook and Twitter are today’s common thread to negative sharing and discussion.
Now think about an experience that was turned into a positive by good customer service. This was an experience that was promptly resolved. The negative concerns were turned around, and a positive influence was created. The customer is smiling and feels good about the vendor selected. Most likely, the relationship with that vendor will continue. But how often is this story told? Five – 25 – 30 times? It’s likely to be a lesser number of people have heard about the positive experience when compared to the negative experience.
This is an unfortunate trend for businesses as there are many people doing good things, and many businesses that are doing good things. The good deeds get lost in communication. But it is also why consistent, high-level customer service is a must.
The leadership in any company sets the standard for the tone that employees follow. It is always important for any employee role, especially management level, that a company provides the appropriate process for handling situations and expectations. The difference between a negative experience and positive experience can rest with the below:
- Did the customer service representative listen?
- Did they understand the concern or problem?
- Did they attempt to resolve the problem or offer solutions that would work?
- Did they emphasize or care whether the problem was resolved to satisfaction?
- Did you feel like the only alternative was to escalate the concern to a supervisor? And if so, were you satisfied at the end of the conversation or feel as if there was no resolution?
In the many years that I have been in a supervisory capacity and have had discussions with customers who are upset, it almost always boils down to two things, listening and understanding the problem and then providing education.
An association should expect good customer service, just as the vendor should deliver good customer service. That expectation can be achieved with four guidelines:
- Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Platinum Rule: Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.
- Grandparent Rule: Treat others the way you would your favorite grandparent.
- Other People’s Shoes Rules: Treat others the way you would like to be treated if you were in their shoes.
Many times customers are frustrated with things in their lives, and this phone call is viewed as another problem. 5 Star Customer Service should make people feel special even when the problem can’t be solved. Doing little things every day can build the platform for opportunities to provide unexpected service. Thereby providing — 5 STAR CUSTOMER SERVICE.
Sandi Crnko, CPM®, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®
President & CEO
Real Property Management, Inc., AAMC®, AMO®
Lewis Center, OH