Should Teach Us All
By Carolyn West Price
day goes by that I am not amazed by how companies can remain in
business with such poor customer service. These companies spend
thousands and thousands of dollars on marketing to become household
names, and many spend time and energy training their employees on
the right way to greet clients and sell to clients
very few seem to invest any training in good service, post-sale
follow-up or problem solving. Yet, we all know a dissatisfied
customer will most definitely spend energy and time telling many
others about the horrible experience.
is the call to action for all of us business owners, based on our
awareness of the impact of word-of-mouth marketing? It’s getting
customer talking for the right reasons, rather than giving them
something to complain about. Here are a few tips to get you
the customer’s shoes. Start with the basics-- call in one day and
see how your call is handled. Ask for some assistance or
information. Evaluate how it’s handled. Email through your website
for more information. How fast is the response? How professional?
(By the way, what do you do with those leads?)
company is small and you will be recognized, get a trusted friend to
do this for you and ask for complete candor in his or her
evaluation. Hire a mystery shopper if you are really serious.
your attrition. Do customers come back on a repeated basis or are
you a one-shot wonder even if repeat business could be done? If you
lose a lot of customers after their first or second encounter with
your company, start trouble-shooting by asking for their feedback.
Just as companies often interview employees who resign, you can
interview customers. At least they’ll know you care.
your problem-resolution/return policy. Do you offer a satisfaction
guarantee? If so, that is often a marketing advantage, since it
takes the risk of buying from you out of the evaluation process. If
you don’t, then consider it. Additionally, mystery shop this
process as well. This is where many companies fall apart. Here are
a couple of scenarios that have happened recently, which can serve
as valuable lessons for us all.
company that has no phone number on their website (a major no-no)
and cannot be found through yellowbook.com would not respond to
emails about a problem with a $100 product. Being unavailable for a
customer is just bad business.
company sent an e-mail newsletter to its customer list. The
newsletter provided a link to unsubscribe. Given the opportunity to
actually reach the company, a note was emailed asking it to
discontinue emailing the newsletter because there would be no future
business, given its lack of response to the problem a year earlier.
Unbelievably, the company responded with an email that simply said,
“Wow. We will take you off our list.” There was no attempt to
even learn about the problem. How does such a company remain in
scenario, involving much more money, is even more appalling. A
Howard County-based mover promised a smooth move for the contents of
an entire home—all in one truck that was slated to arrive on an
agreed-upon date. Instead, they split the contents into two trucks
several weeks apart and would never respond to phone calls to
confirm the date of the second truck’s departure and arrival, so the
local customs office could be notified.
contact (an officer in the company), who had no problems processing
the credit card payment for thousands of dollars, was initially “out
of the office. Then, he was “sick.” Then, he was “unavailable.”
No one on the local staff helped either, so calling the
international corporate office to do some computer checking was the
local office has never called back or done a follow-up call, despite
what seemed like “warm fuzzies” when we signed the contract. And,
the corporate office, which was apprised of the situation, made no
attempt at follow-up or even to send a note of apology. Sound
familiar? We all have our war stories that amaze us and leave us to
choose other vendors for future service. But, what do we learn
from these to improve our own businesses?
bottom line is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and “do
unto others as you would have them do unto you.” By all means, be
proactive in training for problem resolution and follow-up after
service, even if it’s just a short thank-you note. Most people are
reasonable and understand that even the best systems can fail. If
human beings act like they care, most of us are forgiving and will
likely even give the company a second chance.
Carolyn West Price is a marketing consultant who has worked with the
teleservices industry and presented seminars and workshops for
years. She can be reached at 410-461-9399.
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