Today, I called a service provider and received another dose of bad customer service. I had my usual rant afterwards, which ended with:
“… why is the customer never right?”
My ramblings led me to contemplate our own business. What could we learn from their mistakes?
Is the customer always right?
Disclosure: Based on personal opinion, not to be taken as advice. Seek a professional if required.
Bad Customer Service: Getting Every Penny
I’m sure an analyst has crunched the numbers, and discovered the minimum level of service required to maintain a profit. And here we are.
But there’s more to business than maximising profit. There’s a balance to be struck.
When my relationship with a company is nearing an end, I am faced with 1 of 2 behaviours:
- A repeated plea for me to stay or,
- An attempt to take as much money from me as possible before I leave.
The first on the list is normally accompanied by a deal which they should have offered me in the first place.
Instead of offering that once in a lifetime ‘deal’, more often than not, what they actually do is increase their prices in the hope I won’t cancel my contract before I’m ‘lock-in’.
The second on the list is normally supported by 3 pages of small-print, which neither of us has read, or intends to read.
See, no matter what service provider I opt for, I’m greeted with the same small print. The only question I need ask is, Should I Go Without This Service Or Not?
Thank you for your custom.
We are sad to see you leave, but hope that you’ll consider returning to us in future.
We don’t have any special-deals to offer as our prices are already as low as we can make them. But if we do have a deal over the next 12 months, we’d be happy to send you an email if you’d like?
I see that you have a couple of months left on your contract.
The contract was designed to protect us against malicious behaviour, and I can clearly see that you’re an upstanding person who has always met your bill. In this case we are more than happy to wave any leaving fee.
Result: A customer who has not just closed the door to e-v-e-r doing business with us again. A customer that won’t raise a voice whenever somebody mentions our company name in a public place!
Bad Service: ‘I’m Doing You A Favour’
A common misconception in the modern business world is, who’s working for who?
Too many times I find myself speaking with a poorly trained ‘customer service adviser’, who appears to think they’re paying me for a service (which I’m apparently not providing!).
I can somewhat understand where they’re coming from – that’s the bad training part of it. Also, those pesky contracts have them believing they have control over my estate.
Well, I’m not much for this reversal. And it is detrimental to the profit making abilities of the mother company.
I will take my custom elsewhere if an employee speaks to me as if I owe them something.
We treat the customer as if they purchased our product with their money. Just like they had taken money out of their pocket, and put it into ours:
We are grateful for the custom and the opportunity to start a relationship with a happy, returning, customer.
If/when they have cause to contact us, we remember that fact. -More-so, we want to start building that relationship by exhibiting great customer service!
Result: A customer who feels valued, and hopefully, a customer who would consider purchasing from us again.
The Worst Customer Service: Pride
Some large companies suffer from a distinct disconnect between the product, and those who sell it.
There is little pride taken in the product or service, just a drive to flog the thing.
Profit is the name of the game: Increase profit margins – Impress the boss – Get a raise – Get a promotion.
The modern company effectively rewards behaviour which is counter-intuitive to its own longevity.
But if nobody really cares about the product, then so what? Let’s just milk it for what it’s worth, right?
How many times have you seen new packaging with the words ‘New and Improved’ on it, when it’s actually hugely inferior to the original?
Cheaper materials, made to inferior standards. Or, the same packaging, with less product inside -for bigger bonuses, no doubt.
Problem is, nobody’s really accountable for the poor service we all too often receive.
Human beings, regardless of any static cold words written on a piece of paper, like to have positive interactions with other human beings. Especially humans they are giving money to.
Unless you hold a monopoly on something like air, you’re not in a position to think, ‘profits first’.
That’s because your customer is thinking of service first. And included in their idea of ‘service’ is, ‘customer service’.
As small business owners, customer service is paramount to our continued success. We can not afford to drop the ball when it comes to our customers.
Result: A customer who knows that we take pride in our product, and the service we provide. A customer who knows that we wouldn’t sell an inferior product, simply to turn a profit.
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