Customer service is more than just order taking

Posted on Sep 28, 2010 by Tonya Dittman

Order takers are everywhere. I find them at the local Starbucks, my favorite restaurant, the hair stylist and even the place I get my oil changed. Picture a typical scenario: I go to an establishment, I want to purchase a product or service, and the salesperson checks the box from a menu of options. If I’m ordering a hamburger, an order taker is exactly what I want. However, there are certain times when I want more than an order taker.

For instance, I recently made the leap to a “smart” phone. This was a huge step for a technology misfit such as myself. Until this point, I had not entered the 24/7 world of texting, thousands of apps, the Internet at my fingertips no matter where I was, etc. A phone was just that – a device to call people. So with a little a lot of trepidation, I drove to a local cell phone vendor – at the recommendation of a friend.

When I arrived, I was not shy about sharing my ignorance about cell phone technology.  I explained to the sales associate my utter ineptitude. Here was the order taker’s reply – “Which type of phone are you interested in?” Without even asking a question about how I’d like to use the phone and why I wanted one – this person is asking me which box he should check. My reply – “I have no idea. This is how I use my current cell phone and this is what I’d like to be able to do.”  He proceeded to run through the standard list of features, but couldn’t relate how I wanted to use my phone with the features he rambled off.

At that moment, I wanted a partner.

A partner listens to my needs. This requires active listening skills; a deciphering of what is and is not being said. A partner takes the time to learn what’s most important to me and how I would like to use their product or service. Then, and only then, do they RECOMMEND options that fit my unique needs. Most importantly, the best partners maintain “sticky” relationships with their customers by always remembering what’s most important to their customer and anticipating future needs.

As I said earlier, order takers are everywhere. Partners are harder to find.

A healthcare organization that we have worked with in the past, is truly an example of being committed to partnership. It is the story of a group of physicians and healthcare providers who had a vision to be true partners with their customers – patients. And they brought that vision to life by forging bonds of partnership with their staff, insurance providers…everyone who has an impact on how their customer (the patient) experiences their organization….before they arrive and even after they leave.

Tonya Dittman

About Tonya Dittman

Tonya has held various marketing roles during her tenure at Miron, which began in 2007. As the director of culture, Tonya is dedicated to Miron’s goal of being a great place to work for its employees. She inspires a positive work culture, identifies Miron’s ideal employee experience, measures and provides recommendations to enhance Miron’s employee experience, and leads the development of Miron’s C5 culture. As director of culture, Tonya is also responsible for enhancing The Miron Way orientation program and supporting additional culture-related Academy of Excellence learning programs as well as Miron’s Dream Project and Wellness Program. Tonya holds a degree in psychology and business from St. Norbert College. She is a LEED Green Associate and a graduate of Leadership Fox Cities. Tonya is a member of the United Way Fox Cities Campaign Volunteer Committee and the Utech Consulting Leadership Collective.

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2 Responses to Customer service is more than just order taking

  • Tonya,
    I could not agree more, it seems all to often the person on the other end of the line has the mind set of an order taker and not a partner. I recently had two experience’s just like you have described, one with an insurance company that I was paying good money to each year to represent me…not to just take my order. And again with my website consultant/developer I thought I was working with as a partner not a number to there bottom line. Both companies obviously did not take the time to think about the difference, and unfortunately for them I searched out there competitors who were more than willing to listen to my needs.

    • Tonya Dittman Tonya Dittman says:

      Thanks for your comments Ken. Like you, I searched out competitors and took my business elsewhere. Being a partner, not just an order taker, will become increasingly important for product and service providers – if they are to earn and keep their customers’ business.

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