Friday, June 15, 2007

No kidding, an owner who takes customer calls?

As the owner of GoPlanetEarth, many customers are surprised when I answer the phone. I certainly have employees willing to take calls, but their knowledge of soap making and/or product use is somewhat limited and the calls end up being forwarded to me. This is not to imply my employees aren't adept at what they are hired to do. Without doubt, they are the BEST at packing, keying orders, processing UPS labels, taking inventory, and pulling orders. However, many new employees haven't acquired enough soap making knowledge to answer customer questions without assistance. So, for all practical purposes, I am the best candidate to take customer phone calls. I'm not available 100% of the time, but I sure do my best to pick-up the phone whenever possible. And based on customer feedback, I return calls in record time.

I believe it is important for customers to be able to speak to the person in-charge. Many online companies run phone calls through a customer service department which generally ends up with transferred calls, or worse yet, having your call forwarded to the voice mail of someone who may or may not be able to help. On a personal level, I find it absolutely frustrating.

The plus side of answering company phone calls: It's fun to chit-chat with customers and get to know them on a more personal level. Their feedback helps improve company operations. Of course, there are always those few who tend to monopolize your time and chat endlessly. You quickly learn to gracefully disengage from the conversation (otherwise, you will be on the phone for hours and get nothing accomplished). There are also phone customers that I call "Fishers". They are forever fishing for information with no plans to ever order. Occasionally these "Fishers" do place an order. It's usually for $5 and takes us 45 minutes to finalize the order. You quickly learn to identify these customer types. {Sorry, we just don't have enough time in our day to provide this level of customer service. If I, or my staff, took that amount of time on every order, our company would be bankrupt!!}

We live in an age of automated service. A "real person" answering phone lines is the exception. I want my customers to know that I will continue to personally answer phone lines, assist with product questions, and help you grow your business. Let's face it, without you, I wouldn't be in business. I'm convinced that our company's commitment to great service and products is what makes each of you a repeat customer. I am no different than you, I have a mortgage to pay, a gas tank to fill, and groceries to buy. That's a pretty good reason to make sure we're doing things RIGHT!

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