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SLSNursery
09-25-2006, 10:05 PM
I am having a debate with my brother about my philosophy regarding customer phone contact. We are a middle sized company in my opinion, with +/- 25 workers, and full time office staff. Sometimes customers call to get in contact with a person for an update, or other information. If they can't get through to our contracting division, they might even call the front counter at our nursery/rewholesale yard. I believe that it is inffecient for an owner to answer the phone once your company gets to be a certain size, or handle a certain volume of work. This post would not necessarily apply to those businesses who are solo or small operators. I also think that direct cell phone contact by customers to those folks performing the job is inefficient because it interrupts the staff from doing a timely job. Many times customers are trying to bump themselves higher up the list; i.e. the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Ideally, I want office staff to act like a gatekeeper to find out what the caller wants, and then get the answer to their inquiry without allowing the customer to interrupt the technician or foreman.

The bottom line is that I think it is better to have a responsible person return calls in a timely fashion than to have that same responsible person interrupted and blindsided with questions all day long.

If you have a larger company do you always answer your own phone? If you do, are you also the one performing the work?
Do you give most customers your cell phone# or the cell phone # of a foreman?

I would like to see what kind of feedback this thread receives. There may not be a right or wrong, but the discussion would be helpful. Thanks.

dcondon
09-25-2006, 10:11 PM
I don't know why so many people don't answer it because that's just more money in your pocket!!!! JMO

eruuska
09-25-2006, 10:54 PM
I don't know why so many people don't answer it because that's just more money in your pocket!!!! JMO

I think the OP meant having someone other than the owner answer the phone.

I can see where a company would reach a size that it would generate more calls than the owner would be able to handle by him/herself.

dcondon
09-25-2006, 10:57 PM
I think the OP meant having someone other than the owner answer the phone.

I can see where a company would reach a size that it would generate more calls than the owner would be able to handle by him/herself.

I understand that but you should answer it if nobody is around.

HOOLIE
09-25-2006, 11:01 PM
I think once you get that many employees/crews going it's no longer the job of the owner to field every call...

I don't have 25 employees but still I rarely answer the phone, 95% of the time the caller leaves a message and I call back...since I'm out working in the field I'd rather not be interrupted constantly by calls anyway.

General Landscaping
09-25-2006, 11:20 PM
Small timer here....

But my opinion on Customer Service......
The person on the phone should be able to make things happen & make decisions, not just a filter for the boss.
If the customer wants something that is above their level of responsibility, they should be able to contact the boss while the customer is on the phone.

Customer Service should be a 1 call event for the customer.

Az Gardener
09-26-2006, 03:01 AM
The owner should not be the one to answer the phone. A company that size should have systems in place so the business should run without the owner being available.

If the owner has to be the one to answer questions or make decisions there are bigger problems than who should answer the phone.

If you as the owner want to make exceptions for a few select clients that represent a major portion of your revenue for the year that would be reasonable to me.

Have your brother read Coveys 7-Habits, set him straight.

SLSNursery
09-26-2006, 07:47 PM
Thanks for the responses -

Dcondon - I'm not talking about being lazy, I'm discussing operations, and delegation. Of course if everyone is tied up I'll grab the phone.

AZ Gardner - I haven't read that, but yours was just the response I'm looking for. Sometimes I get these ideas in my head and I feel like an island when I try to justify them or express that someone else must have dealt with this. We do have the systems in place, and the people who answer the phone can and do make decisions. I just filter a little bit more thoroughly and want them to as well. In the long run I think it helps the customer, because interrupting a guy in the field, whether he is the owner or not, may not be the most efficient way of getting something done or finding out the status of a job. We pay a ton of money for cell phones w/two ways, and probably will soon have an intranet voice over IP phone system in place. The mechanics of this are fine, its more of a philosophical discussion, and I certainly did NOT want to indicate that we avoid taking necessary calls, etc.

dvmcmrhp52
09-26-2006, 07:52 PM
If you have 25 employees and you still have to answer the calls you don't have the right employees.

With 25 employees an owner has more important things to spend his time on besides phone calls from customers. That's not to say that those same customers should not hear from you if the situation deems it necessary. Customer service is still the number one thing that seperates you from all the rest.

Thirdpete
09-26-2006, 11:31 PM
your gatekeeper philosophy is correct. i would have one phone number, period, for every division. let office staff direct the calls.you can either ansewr or return calls if need be but either way having one line for everyone to call seems the most sensible thing to do.

MOW PRO LAWN SERVICE
09-26-2006, 11:34 PM
Always answer the phone it's buisiness.

dwlah
09-27-2006, 11:08 PM
Almost every customer that wants to talk to the boss has a problem and thinks the squeeky wheel will get the problem resolved
In a larger company the boss usually doesnt know whats going on with the nuts and bolts of most situations
IF the customer will tell the office what the problem is The office can usually get the problem taken care of by the time they track the boss down and the boss calls back to find out what the problem is
Then the boss still has to turn it over to whatever dept to get it fixed
(this is one of 287,000 reasons I went to the weekend shift on my F/T job)