In talking or writing about customer service, we tend to concentrate on service that is poor because the customer service rep is so non-forthcoming as to be non-existant. In other words, the Invisible Clerk Syndrome. Poor attitude, poor people skills, what-have-you.
In B2B this translates into Return Email/Call Avoidance Syndrome.
But there is the other end of the spectrum. In this financial climate it is a practice that is becoming more prevalant. It is that of being so eager to help that a customer eventually feels like getting a restraining order.
You are a customer service stalker.
It is understandable, of course. Businesses are feeling the pinch, they are being told the only way to differentiate is by service, and desperation and panic ensue.
What are some stalking behaviors?
- Immediately pouncing on a customer entering your area with the look of pleading on your face.
- Online equivalent: Sending a high priority email with a huge thank you and gushing about how how happy you are to have them as a customer, please call us, blah, blah, blah.
- Offering to help more than once in a 5 minute period.
- Online equivalent: sending emails every day for a week to “just follow up” in case the customer has questions.
- Following customers around “just in case” they need you.
- Online Equivalent: Endlessly offering friending or following on social media accounts, or finding out the customer’s social media handle and starting to respond to every Tweet or post.
- Rattling off all the store specials without noticing the customer doesn’t want to stop to listen.
- Online Equivalent: Sending long marketing emails with every possible special deal to everyone on your mailing list at least once a week and giving no option to opt out.
While probably not as egregious as being rude and unhelpful, this type of thing can chase a customer off almost as quickly. This is not what is meant by customer service.
Good customer service calls for a pleasant greeting showing customers you are aware of them. Online: answer calls and emails ASAP but only to say Hi. Anything more is stalking.
If the customer appears to be lost, that would be a good time to offer to help. On line: if using pre-emptive live chat, only ask once if they need assistance. If the customer appears to know exactly where she is going or says no to chatting, anything more is stalking.
If the customer appears to have what she wants but does not seem to be in a hurry, you could safely offer to tell about store specials. Online: if a customer downloads material from your site or spends a lot of time there, you could safely offer live chat/email or automatic suggestions about products or services she is most interested in. If the customer is trying to leave or never downloads anything and leaves the site in less than 10 seconds, this would not only be stalking, but taking hostage.
Don’t even think about following the customer around the store or requesting chats at every new page view (Online). That is stalking.
I know, you feel pressured, stressed, helpless in the face of financial ruin, but take a deep breath. Now take two more.
Now, maybe you are relaxed enough that customers can feel like customers again. Believe me, they will let you know when they want you.