Archive for Marketing & Sales

Customer Service – Not!

woman customer service repAs I recently listened endlessly to a chipper voice recording telling me how important my call was to my cable service provider, I found myself once again musing about exactly how atrocious customer service generally is these days. We talk a lot about how important it is & the business press is always full of articles extolling ways to improve it, but I can’t remember the last time I had truly exceptional customer service.
 
I think that’s pretty telling. Generally, it’s less expensive to keep a customer than to acquire a new one. So it is in most business’ self-interest to treat an existing customer well. And, in the absence of being treated well, our expectations as consumers have been lowered to the point that we expect lousy service.
 
Think about how many times you have had to make repeated phone calls to get results…or have been disconnected just when you finally managed to reach a person, instead of a menu option. And each time, you were probably treated to a lengthy variety of menu choices and repetitively annoying messaging about the importance of your call.
 
So, what’s the business lesson? Outstanding attention to a customer will definitely make you stand out in the crowd. So put yourself in your customer’s shoes the next time you are asked a question or presented with a customer service request. Look at it as an opportunity to cement your business relationship with this customer. And if he or she tells friends about having a positive experience with you, you have a potential future customer positively pre-disposed to using your products or services. Customer loyalty is definitely worth money in the long run.
 
If you think my call is important, then answer it quickly and resolve the problem or question in one phone call. The real problem is that there is really no recourse for bad customer service. Sure, we can stop using a particular vendor – but frequently there really isn’t any competition available.
 
And not using a vendor in the future doesn’t help us to deal with whatever the current dilemma is, as my recent experience illustrates:
After a comprehensive search, I purchased a fairly expensive computer system from one of the leading manufacturers. And, as an admitted geek, I was really looking forward to getting new toys to play with…to say my enthusiasm was curbed by the end of the process is quite an understatement.
 
The online sales process was easy – but then the trouble began. When the system arrived, the operating system installation was defective. I then wasted about 3 days of my time dealing with customer service, installing and uninstalling software and waiting for a needed software CD to arrive. And, on top of everything else, they wanted to charge me shipping to overnight the CD which I needed to repair what they had done incorrectly in the first place.
 
That’s when I had reached my limit – and that’s when they lost me as a customer forever. A supervisor ultimately waived the fee, but I shouldn’t have had to waste more time asking him to do so.  Adding insult to injury, the company actually sent me 6 customer satisfaction surveys to fill out – clearly they like to waste my time in that regard as well.

I did fill one out and included my contact information and order number, but there was no follow-up about the horrendous scores I gave them. This isn’t customer service – this is going through the motions.

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