telephone-smartsAfter you’ve gotten through the automated tree of service options (“for dept A, press 1; for dept B, press 2…) you finally get a real live person on the phone.

If your employees are not ensuring that they’ve met all of your customers’ needs, you’re setting yourself up to have dissatisfied customers.

So, how can you serve your customers better and faster?

By ensuring that you’ve met all their needs, not only the one that they’ve called for.

As an example, I fly Continental Airlines as I think they are the best for the types of travel I do.

When calling their reservation line to make a change (I book online directly but sometimes will call in to explore options), the agent calls me by name, has my reservation pulled up in front of them when they take the call, and we can get down to business right away. [Have you ever entered your 16 digit credit card into the phone, plus the expiration date, your mother’s birthday, and your zip code, only to be asked all of that info again when the live operator comes on the line? Why punch all that in if it’s not going to help you find my file any faster?]

In addition, Continental Airlines will offer to connect me to their car rental partners, Hertz and Budget, and will even provide me with special discounted offers. And before we hang up, I can promise you that they’ll also ask if I need a hotel reservation that they can help me with.

They’ve met my stated needs (a different seat assignment, or an alternate routing) and also surmised that I might need additional travel assistance when I land (car and hotel). Most importantly to me, when the operator comes on the line, they’re ready to start working with me – my reservation is up in front of them already.

Other companies can take a lesson from Continental’s customer service department.