It’s happened to you I know! Like many people you have experienced horrible customer service. It appears that long gone are the days of believing the customer is always right. Here we are in the early 21st century in the year 2010 and in the midst of what is now being coined as the “Great Recession”. Businesses can no longer take their customers for granted or even take Advantage of their customers. There is an excellent book out Called “Raving Fan” and I think this book illustrates well the art of creating a Raving Fan. But this is my blog and not the authors of that great book, so allow me to offer a few examples from my life of Customer Service nightmares.
I had hired a well respected and well known sign company in my state to create a lobby sign for the company I worked for. The sign company advertises on certain aspects of customer service and quality which were appealing to my search for a company – that and they were the ONLY company willing to take on a custom lobby sign project. It took the company nearly 2 months to finally come out and measure the area for the sign and then it took another 3 months for them to build a small custom sign. The sales manager kept giving excuse after excuse and we could never get a clear story out of him. FINALLY, they delivered the sign — it was not what we had asked for and was over the amount we agreed to pay. Needless to say, I wrote a rather terse letter to the owner of the sign company with the details of what had happened and included a copy of the book Raving Fan. Less than a week later I received a personal phone call from the Owner of this rather prestigious sign company. He personally thanked me for my honesty and the book. He told me what he was going to do to correct the experience I had with him, including revisions to the bill and even told me that he was going to buy a case of the books Raving Fan and make ALL of his managers read it both current and future. You see, this guy understood the value of doing the right thing and certainly the value of a happy customer.
Now for a not-so-happy ending… I had been with a certain phone company from about 1990 through about 2007. So, at least 17 years I had some kind of service with this company. I was very happy, for the most part, with the service I had been receiving and had no desire to leave them. In 2007 I had accumulated 2 cell phones from this company and only needed one. Remember, I had been with them 17 years. When I called the company.. their party line was that I would be charged $175 to shut off the second phone because it was still under contract. Never mind that I had been with them almost 20 years and I was willing to sign up for another 2 years of service with the phone I was going to keep on. You see, it was more important for this company to collect $175 than to keep me for another 20 years! Something is wrong with this picture. So, they lost me as a customer for life and every chance I get I tell my friends how horrible this company is and that they are better off going with the competitor.
You see – it is about doing the right thing. Companies cannot hide behind the statement of “its not our policy” or “I can’t help you at all.” If you’re a business owner at any level – please hear me. A healthy company has Happy Customers. Now I realize you can’t give the house away. But my experience is this… the examples I’ve given ended up costing the company more if nothing was done. If you’re going to have a customer service department – those individuals who answer the phones should be trained and given authority to REALLY help a customer. Again, the world of business has changed forever because of the Recession we are in. We can never do business the same way again. People are more careful with the money they spend – they expect a bang for their buck and if your company wont give it to them, they will find someone who will meet their needs.
Many people say without product there are no customers. I say, if there are no happy customers, there is no need for a product or service. It’s time we change how we look at our customers. We can no longer afford to assume that anyone HAS to do business with us. We need to move from being the companies of “NO” and “CAN’T”, to a business oh “How can we serve you?” We must learn to DO THE RIGHT things when it comes to our customers or we too will be in the unemployment lines.
Philip A Foster, MA is a professional leadership coach with Maximum Change Inc. Elevating leaders and their organizations to the next level since 2005. Master Certified Coach, Philip A Foster, MA and his associates facilitate effective positive change by helping organizations, leaders and individuals in high demand — design and implement strategies that maximize focus and deliver results. Specializing in Organization and Strategic Leadership.