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Customer Service: Part 5 – Ending on a Positive Note

Customer Service

Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed a number of topics relating to customer service. We’ve talked about what makes it good or bad, the state of customer service, mantras for improvement, and some of our best practices here at Detroit Sponge.

To sum everything up, we all want to receive good products and services from the companies we chose to do business with. We don’t want to deal with problems, but if we do have a problem, we want it dealt with completely and without hassle.

As much as a bad interaction can hurt our image with a customer, it’s also an opportunity to further exceed their expectations. Problems are frustrating and inconvenient, but being heard and appreciated goes a long way. Solve their problem and try to go one step beyond.

Instead of wondering and worrying whether a customer is going to say something negative about you because something went wrong, make it the goal for them to want to share how well their issue was handled and what a positive interaction it ended up being in the end.

I’m not fond of the saying, “The customer is always right.” I don’t believe this is the message we should be focusing on. Instead, we should focus on the fact that right or wrong is not the point. Do you want to argue about it, or solve it? Losing a customer to be right doesn’t solve anything. The goal is to make a positive interaction out of a negative one.

Show your customer why you deserve their trust.

Do you want to read some more on this subject? Here are some other good articles I found:

What do you feel is the most important personality trait for handling customer service and issues?

Customer Service: Part 4 – Good Service Goals

Customer Service

The way we see it, there are a few main goals to work toward to achieve great customer service. These are specifically geared toward how we serve customers at Detroit Sponge, but with minimal adjustment these goals can fit any type of business.

Ship on time and as promised.

When customers come to me with an order, they need their parts ASAP. Usually they’re out of something important and/or preparing for something specific on an upcoming job. Either way, they don’t want to wait. So it’s my job to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Perform on every step of the transaction.

Every step of the process is equally important, whether we’re taking the order, packing the order, shipping the order, or giving support after the fact. Even once the initial transaction is complete, it is still my job to make sure the customer is happy with our products and our service.

Be courteous and respectful.

Say “Please” and “Thank you.” Understand the customer’s point of view and put yourself in their shoes.

Underpromise and overdeliver.

Whether quoting a customer on shipping charges or an estimated ship or delivery day, I always try to overestimate rather than underestimate.

Apologize when necessary. Take responsibility. Fix it.

If something goes wrong at any point in the process, apologize. “I’m sorry that happened. I know that must be frustrating.” If it is your fault, take responsibility. It will be respected. Either way, figure out what can be done to fix it.

What other customer service goals do you work to employ?

Customer Service: Part 3 – Good Service Mantras

Customer Service

Customer service became a topic of conversation at work recently, after I saw a great article on it in the most recent issue of American Window Cleaner magazine. Customer service is an important aspect for us here at Detroit Sponge, especially being a smaller company. We take every interaction with our customers very seriously, because each customer is one small, interlocking part of the foundation of our business. Customer satisfaction also leads to referrals and affects a big part of our growth.

I became inspired by the article to make our goals more prominent. So I created a printout to post over each phone, to look at while we’re talking with customers. We call them our customer service mantras.

Be your customer’s best interaction today!

A negative interaction can affect the direction of your day’s mood and all that day’s future interactions. So can a positive one. If I can affect one person positively, maybe that will change the course of their day. We all try to keep that in mind with every phone call.

Put the customer first in everything you do!

No matter how much we want to be our customer’s best interaction, we all occasionally need reminding that the customers are the lifeblood of any company. They are the reason we go to work everyday. Their loyalty is vital, because they need our help to accomplish their goals and they trust us with that. This is that reminder.

Solve the customer’s problem!

Often, customers ask me how to handle certain situations that arise while they clean windows. Now I’m very familiar with our products, but I’m no window cleaner. However, if I don’t know the answer to a question, I usually know how to find it. So I don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to try and answer a question. Sometimes I learn something too, and then I have more information to help future customers.

Say “Yes!” instead of “No!”

This goes along with the previous statement. Rather than say “No” or “I don’t know” I push myself to go the extra mile and find the answer, even if I have to point a customer in a direction other than our company.

Can you think of any more customer service mantras to keep you motivated?

Customer Service: Part 2 – Fixing Bad Service

Customer Service

Over the past six months, I have been going through the process of buying a new house and moving. Along the way, I’ve had a mixture of both positive and negative customer service experiences. The good were really good, and I made sure to adequately voice my appreciation, but many were bad and compounded by the feeling that I wasn’t being listened to or appreciated when I tried to get the situations corrected.

For example, the company we bought our new washer and dryer from delivered the wrong ones. We refused the delivery but wanted the problem fixed right away. We wanted the correct washer and dryer, but getting the company to even admit their mistake became more difficult than the eventual solution. As it progressed, we felt once the company had our money, their interest in us was gone.

Finally, we took our discontent to social media, and only then did we finally see our concerns addressed.

I’m glad we got our issue resolved, but at what length? How has customer service declined so much that it is only a priority when a company’s failings are made public? Why wouldn’t a company prefer to solve an issue immediately and completely so they can turn a negative situation into a positive one?

From this and other situations over the past six months, I’ve discovered how bad customer service has become. I can’t comprehend how or when this has happened, but I’ve heard from many friends and colleagues that this is all too common.

As a seller of products and services at Detroit Sponge, my one goal is to meet or exceed the expectations of the customer who trusts me with their business–especially if they have a problem.

As a buyer of products and services, I reasonably expect a few things when I have a problem:

  1. Someone to listen to my problem.
  2. Someone to acknowledge that there is a problem.
  3. Someone to ask for or offer a solution.
  4. Someone to follow through to the solution and make sure the problem is resolved.

So these are the things we strive for here at Detroit Sponge, because we want to treat customers how we would like to be treated.

Ultimately, we all just want to receive what was originally expected. If there’s a problem, it should be taken care of quickly, with adequate communication, and without hassle. We want to feel like satisfaction with the purchase is the goal, not just the taking of money.

How do you want it handled if you have a problem with a company’s products or services?

Customer Service: Part 1 – Why Focus on Good Service?

Customer Service

Whether you’re the one buying or selling services or products, you deal with some form of customer service everyday–probably several times a day–even if you’re just sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon and watching TV. Your TV was sold to you by a company as were the services that power that TV–electricity, cable, etc. You probably don’t think about that unless you have a problem–for example, the cable signal goes out–because you expect the products and services you pay for to work as intended.

It’s frustrating when something you expect to work doesn’t. You just want the problem fixed.

The customer service you receive to solve your problem can then shape both your future opinions of the company (and the product or service) as well as your future interactions with them and others. If you are valued and heard and treated well, it will lead to positive outcomes. Otherwise, it can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, rattling your trust, not just in that company, but also in other companies. This can negatively affect every other interaction you have as well.

A bad customer service experience can ruin your whole day.

It’s probably not too surprising that negative interactions are the ones that stick with us longer. When a product or service fails, we wonder if we have made a bad purchase. When we feel undervalued, unappreciated, we second guess why we deal with a company.

It’s hard to earn the trust of a customer–it’s even harder to earn it back.

That’s why, as a provider of products and services, we believe our goal at Detroit Sponge is always to earn and keep the trust of our customers. Customers expect our products and services to be quality and work as intended, and they expect us to deliver what we promise.

This is all it takes to earn the trust of a customer, but the process is far more complicated than that. Any breakdown along the way can rattle that trust. How we handle customer problems is how we really make ourselves stand out.

That’s the purpose of this series of blog posts–to discuss what customer service is and why it is so very important, whether we are the customer or the company providing the product or service.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at the state of customer service, Detroit Sponge’s customer service mantras, and some goals for good customer service.

Negative or positive, do you have any recent customer service interactions that really made a certain company stick out in your mind?

How to Conquer Hard Water Stains

Water Spots

Hard water stains are a common problem in areas with tap water that has a high concentrations of minerals, and particularly for homes without water softeners. Hard water stains can especially be a problem in bathrooms (shower doors and walls) and on windows that get hit by sprinklers.

I’ve seen a lot of different home remedies for cleaning hard water stains from windows, such as:

  • Wet newspaper
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • White paste toothpaste (non-whitening)
  • Baking powder
  • Powder stovetop cleaner
  • Wet fabric softener sheets

A lot of them make sense for different reasons, but some I don’t get. Wet newspaper? Vinegar? Maybe if the water spots are minor or from poor previous cleaning. Wet fabric softener sheets? I would think those would leave an awful, streaky mess, since that’s what towels washed with fabric softener do.

This YouTube video from essortment makes some good points for removing hard water stains, particularly in regards to lemon juice. Most hard water stains are basic and lemon juice is acidic.

But what if you’ve tried these and had no luck? Should you use something with caustic fumes like a CLR or Lime Away? These may be effective, but they’re not good for using in a closed room like a bathroom and they’re certainly not good for prolonged exposure, like a window cleaner might encounter.

When I suggest hard water stain removers, I suggest a series of products, starting with the safest, but still very effective for most stains, and ending with a acid-based cleaner which requires care and the use of gloves:

  1. Bio-Clean: This is a light-duty cleaner with consistency similar to Soft Scrub or similar paste bathroom cleaners, but of a professional grade. Bio-clean is also safe for plants, kids, and pets.
  2. Titan Labs A-1 Stain Remover: This is a medium-duty cleaner which is a paste with uniquely engineered scrubbing agents.
  3. EaCo Chem One Restore: This is a heavy-duty restoration cleaner that can even remove metal oxide and some coatings. Easy spray-on, spray-off application.
  4. Winsol Crystal Clear 550: This is a heavy-duty, cleaner made from a powerful mixture of acids. Be sure read all directions and use protection when using this chemical.

If all these stain removers still don’t work, the stain is probably a burn in the glass. When stains become bad enough and sit on glass long enough, they began to etch into the glass itself. At this point, the only thing that works is machining the glass.

A product like the JFlint Mr. Hard Water line can be helpful with these etched-in stains.

When combating hard water stains, it is best to start simple and safe, and to go progressively more heavy-duty. Hard water stains are never something with a simple solution. They take the right chemical and some elbow-grease. So be patient, be persistent, and use the right cleaner.

Do you have additional questions about the various hard water stain removers available?  Comment below or email us from the About Page!

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