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Good customer service is about understanding your customer's feelings, desires, and needs in every situation. You may perceive a situation differently than the customer, but since you are serving him, you must default to his point of view. There is usually a very clear difference between good and bad customer service. However, some customers may have varied expectations that depend on the culture of the area and traditions. Remember that good customer service is in the eye of the beholding patron.
Service time is one of the most important factors in determining whether a business has good or bad customer service. Slow or inefficient service is considered bad customer service. This is why companies such as McDonald's (customers are to be served in 90 seconds or less on average) have made a commitment to fast service.
Though fast service is important, a business should not compromise on the quality of the product or service that is delivered. When a business representative sells a poorly designed product to a customer, it will degrade the customer's opinion of the business and its commitment to good customer service. The Six Sigma management strategy teaches about the "cost of quality"—there is an external cost (customer complaints and returns) associated with presenting an inferior product or service to a customer.
When the customer is greeted at the door of a retail store or business office, it instantly gives him a positive feeling about the business. Alternatively, the customer will prepare himself for a bad customer service experience if he is ignored or treated like he is a low priority.
How major disagreements are resolved by the workers and managers at a business will also demonstrate whether the business has a commitment to good customer service. According to marketing and product strategist Brian Kelly of KANA, "service resolution has the biggest impact on customer satisfaction and customer retention." A company must anticipate customer problems and have a clearly defined process for resolving issues.
Exception to the Rule
There are rare exceptions to these rules regarding good versus bad customer service. For instance, there are several food restaurants in Chicago (such as Weiner's Circle and Ed Debevic's restaurant) where bad customer service is considered to be the best. The workers are asked to insult and talk back to customers—the harsher the better. The worse the customers are treated, the better the tips and the more people come back to patronize the business.
Louise Balle has been writing Web articles since 2004, covering everything from business promotion to topics on beauty. Her work can be found on various websites. She has a small-business background and experience as a layout and graphics designer for Web and book projects.