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Bad customer service can really hurt

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in Human Resources,Leaders & Managers

Chances are you don’t have to think hard to remember a miserable customer-service experience.

Perceived quality is set by employees’ behavior, says business consultant Allan Acton. Your company is the cashier who didn’t make eye contact, the phone rep in India who could barely speak English or the sales clerk who provided misinformation.

Here’s a true story: In announcing its bankruptcy, a retailer blamed competition from large discount retailers.

But a former clerk remembered a rule requiring employees to greet any customer within 10 feet and ask if they needed help. “The other employees explained on my first day that the secret to survival was to make sure you never came within 10 feet of any customer,” he said. “I saw employees turn around midstride when they saw a customer.”

On the web, customers complained about horrible customer service.

Bottom line: While customers who have good experiences tell two or three people, those with bad experiences can use the Internet to tell thousands.

Advice: Shell out for the best hires you can find and spend time out there with them.

— Adapted from The Carrot Principle, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, Free Press.

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