>I just bought a new computer! The whole set up – laptop, separate keyboard and big screen. My office is set, and I am anxious to get started. All I need now is my computer company to come and do the transfer of data from my current laptop to the new one.

Like many of you, I learned along time ago to hire someone to assist me with technology. It is not my area of expertise, and the expense is well worth the benefits of less stress, aggravation and saving time. For the past five years, I have used a local company to handle my technology needs.  Started with them when they were small, and mostly dealt with the owners. They are fantastic! I mean fantastic. The service, knowledge and the completely understand ( that just like them) I am trying to run a small business.

Because of those values, there company has grown.  In order to service all their new customers, they have had to add staff and locations. While I still maintain a solid relationship with the owners, in the past two years I have tried more and more to work directly with their staff, as I know they are busy with the overwhelming responsibility of running a business.

Monday I called to set up an appointment to have my data transferred, and the gentleman on the phone was very  nice, and asked my name and how he could help. When I explained the situation to him – my new computer, the other questions I had, and that I would like them to come to my place of business so I could ask questions about set up, usage of the new system etc. He promptly informed me that they preferred to do data transfer in their office, and that they would need my computer for two to three days and possibly more. I explained that they had done in-office work for me before, and that I could not possibly be without my computer for that long. He again, explained, very nicely, that they really needed to do it “his” way, as they would need to thoroughly check out my computer before loading everything. In addition, when my computer was brought to their office, he could not guarantee how soon they would be able to start on it.

I thanked him and explained that I understood, but I needed to find someone who could do this in my office and faster than three days. He said not a problem he understood, and promptly let me hang up the phone and go to one of his competitors.  I immediately called my tech friends for recommendations, and they referred me to another company that could handle exactly what I needed.

Out of respect, I called the owner of my former company to explain that I was very sorry, and that his service had always been incredible, but in this instance because of my “unique” request I would be using someone else. He immediately told me that was not the case, that he would be happy to accommodate me, and could easily take care of what I needed both on-site and in the time frame I needed.

Unfortunately, I had already put the other company through the hoops of assigning a tech and scheduling an appointment, so I felt I needed to go with them. Yes, you could argue that I should have called the owner before going with another company. I have done that before, but it always feels like I am going over the staffs head, getting a special favor and bothering very busy people for what is a small service request.

The point is customer service should never be the responsibility of the customer. Could I have gotten what I wanted – the answer is yes. However, if you assume that the customer will do what they need to do, move through the levels of your business to get the service they require, then you are assuming yourself right out of a sale.

When is the last time you set down with your staff and reviewed your vision, mission and core values? Talked about customer service situations and when to make exceptions? Does your staff look at a customer’s buying history before saying yes or no to a unique request? Does your staff understand the rules you set in the office are a guide not non-negotiable? Does your team have a record of, get rewarded for, or feel empowered to go our of their way to listen to what the client wants and make it happen?

If you answered no to any of those questions than it is time to revisit your customer service strategy. Inconsistency of message, inability to attempt to solve unique requests, and allowing a long-time customers to go to a competitor without first trying to solve their problems is costing your company money, and it’s reputation!

If you want to turn your prospects into customers and your customers into champions that spend time reinvigorating your customer service strategy.