In the last blog, “Customer Service is Branding” I wrote: “The more work required of customers, the less sales return you will realize.” Let’s add to that: “If your customer has a bad experience, you’ve wasted your time and money to get them in the door, and then you have opened yourself up to brand damage.” Customers are the reason we are in business, and they are in control – make it a great customer experience for them! To explain this point, I’d like to share some good and bad customer experiences, and the results:
PHONE CALL ETIQUETTE – Don’t you want to have me at hello?
I needed to get my articles of incorporation published, so like most customers, I called three different places that were advertising for these services. You’d think they would be happy to receive a customer ready to spend money, but nooo, here is what I experienced:
- A feeling that I was interrupting something.
- A description about all of the steps I would have to go through.
- A sense that someone did not like their job.
You’ll notice that I mentioned three companies, but this experience prompted me to find a fourth who was the absolute opposite. Not only did they offer to retrieve the form (instead of me faxing it to them), but they offered to file the paperwork for me, and simply mail the confirmation to me.
Results: They created a customer for life and someone who will send referrals.
AUTOMATION – If you want to automate, why should I have to wait?
I received an automated message from my doctor to call a phone number for my test results. I called the number and the system asked for an identification code. After three unsuccessful attempts, I had to wait until their office opened the following day to get the code. When I called, they laughed and said, “Oh, you wouldn’t have known it. It is the last four digits of your social security number and the last four digits of your phone number.”
Results: They think they are saving time by utilizing an automated system, but haven’t. In addition, they have created an unnecessary and stressful situation for the patient.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT – Shouldn’t you be reliable and save me time?
I was referred to a virtual assistant, and we set up an appointment time and phone number to talk via email. I called, she didn’t answer, and I left a message. Five minutes later she called back, and apologized that she doesn’t have cell reception – why didn’t she offer to call me or provide me with a land line? Then she went on to explain that she works out of her basement – why do I need to know this? And then apologized two more times – if you are so sorry, why did you do it?
Results: I didn’t feel that she could save me time, as she had already wasted it, and wondered what else she might apologize for.
So, instead of running out the door each week to try to meet new customers, how about putting on your customers’ shoes and walk in them for a week to see what work you can reduce, and how you can improve your systems that should provide the absolute best in customer service in the most friendly, and efficient manner.