Judge a book by its cover!

No, the title is not a typo.

In customer service, people are quick to judge a book by its cover. Callers usually have some sort of opinion about a company, the person they are talking to, and the service experience by the time they have been on the phone for a minute or two. People are very quick to judge how helpful they think someone will be, how quickly their issue should be resolved, etc. It is kind of sad, but it is definitely true and definitely happens, a lot.

The point is to make a good first impression, quickly. Give your customers a reason to think that the customer service experience is going to be a great one as soon as possible. Prevent them from thinking it is going to be a bad experience and that will certainly help. This, of course, is very hard to do. Here are some tips:

  • Test. Analyze the first 30 seconds to 3 or 4 minutes of every possible interaction with your company. Visit your web site, call your company, visit your office, etc.
  • Think. Once you have checked out the first few minutes of your various experiences, think about how they could possibly be better. Ask other employees, ask customers, do some research. How could you make a better first impression?
  • Act. Once you have thought of some solutions, write them down. Then, act.
  • Follow-up. Keep following up to ensure you are constantly refining the first impressions. Work on ensuring the actions get done and that you are giving the best first impression possible.

On a different note, here is a personal first impression story:

When you deal with me on a professional level, I am quite nice, helpful, attentive, etc. I am very optimistic, friendly, and all of that. Secretly, I know what people really mean when they say things (i. e. I can pick up people being mean or rude in a subtle fashion).

On a personal level, I am actually rather cynical, can be rather brutal (in terms of honesty), and so on. I am not really rude, but if people start being rude to me, and I am not biting my tongue (metaphorically), I can be rather mean.

On both levels, though, I am a hard worker and quite motivated. When I want to do something, I will really work towards doing it. If my goal is to make the customer happy (as it often is), I will work very hard to do that. I guess that is the part of my personality that makes me an effective customer service person.

Maybe I have to ask Robert Cameron this, but I wonder if the employee assessment tests can pick people like me up? And if they can, is that necessarily a bad thing? Eternal optimists sometimes aren’t fully in touch with reality. While I can see how that could possibly benefit a customer service representative, is it something that is really a good thing? Personally, I don’t think so. What do you think?

Oh, and I saw this post yesterday about how Second Life handled what could have potentially been a disaster of sorts.