Monday, May 2, 2016

Consistent Service Counts

Every time I see my friend "Barb" (not her real name), she has a terrific story for me about either good or bad customer service. This past week was no exception. 

In a previous post, I described how she had become a "customer for life" of one company because of the service she had received. There's a saying in customer service that you are only as good as your competitor's last interaction, but the same is true for any company, whether you are competitors or not. If a customer receives outstanding service, their expectations are raised, and those expectations will be applied to you when it's your turn to assist.

This time, Barb told me that she had received a great gift last Christmas: A new push-pull golf cart. It stayed in the box until a couple of weeks ago when the weather here in Maine got warm enough to start thinking about golf. When she went to assemble the cart, she found a couple of small pieces of plastic, and then discovered that the lower strap that holds the golf bag to the cart was broken. Undaunted and confident that she'd receive great service, she called the manufacturer to ask for a new lower strap.

The customer service rep who handled the call was a man; you'll see later why that is a factor in the story. He listened as she told him why she was just contacting them now about a Christmas gift, and she described the problem. With only the upper strap, a golf bag would not be stable on the cart. The rep told her that she would have to download a PDF form, fill it out, and mail it in to request the strap.

"What if I went to the retail store where this was purchased?" Barb asked.
"Same thing. You'll have to fill out the form, and the store will send it in. It will probably take longer."
"You can't just send me a new strap?"
"No. You have to fill out the form."
"OK," agreed Barb. "Can you email me a link to the form?"
"Yes," said the rep. "You'll get email today."

No email came that day, or the next, or the next. Barb called the company again, and got a woman on the phone this time. She related the story of her previous conversation. 

The female rep asked, "Was that rep a man or a woman?"
"It was a man," said Barb. 
"Unh-hunh," said the new rep. "Let me get your mailing address and I'll send you out a new strap. You'll have it Wednesday." The rep confirmed the model of the cart, and whether it was the upper or lower strap. Barb had her doubts she'd really receive the new strap, despite the attentive nature of the female rep.

The new strap did arrive on the following Wednesday, and Barb installed it with ease. No PDF form, no fuss, no trip to the retail store.

Now, it seemed to Barb that the question about whether it was a man or a woman who told her she'd have to fill out a mail-in form was a clue that a male on the team (maybe the male on the team) was known to provide less-than-stellar service. Of course there's no way to confirm that. She hopes that he received some instruction on how to respond to a simple customer request, as well as being told to follow through on commitments, even just sending an email when you said you would.

Here's the point: Consistent service counts.

  • All your reps should offer the same level of service
  • The solutions for the customer should be the same
It should always be easier for the customer than it is for your business. Let's not forget who is paying whom.

Give it some thought.

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