A guy walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder…
As every story or joke starts taking shape, we immediately begin to formulate the outcome. Sometimes we’re dead on, and other times we miss it completely. We’re human, and we’re basically imperfect by design. We’re hard wired to be wrong 50% of the time.
In the limousine business, we occasionally come across an issue that falls squarely into this model…a seemingly crazy customer, a chronic complainer, or a demanding executive that is not satisfied – or downright angry – about the service they received. As their complaint is received, it is incredibly easy for the person on the receiving end of the call to begin formulating the outcome before the client has had a chance to finish delivering their version of the incident. Unfortunately, when this happens, the client relationship is put at risk…EXTREME risk.
We are all customers. I can sit here all day and try to refute that statement, but it’s virtually impossible. Each and every one of us is, or has been a customer of someone, so we have a general idea of what we think is good customer service. Personnally, I am an ideal customer…I rarely complain, and when I do, it’s mild at the worst. I think that comes from being in some sort of service oriented business for the last 35 years. I also think that is why I’m willing to listen when a person has a complaint, without formulating the story’s ending. No spoilers!!!
When we talk “customer service” at O’Hare-Midway, we emphasize the need for the client to get the first shot in…that meaning; giving them the opportunity to vocalize their concerns completely…and LISTENING to them. It is impossible to fix a problem if – instead of listening and understanding it – we are busy formulating our interpretation while they are talking. We just let the client speak! We don’t just hear…we LISTEN!
Once we have given the client time to express their views, we can now address their concerns. We try to deal only in facts and not hypotheticals. This affords us the chance to clear up some blurred areas. And we never use the word maybe. Maybe is almost like saying “I don’t know”.
Listening helps us understand what are clients’ needs are, what they expect from us, and what (in their opinion) we need to improve on. By listening, we become a better company, and a better business partner in the corporate world.
So what about the guy walking into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder? Well, if you formulate your own ending, it probably won’t be nearly as funny as the real one.