Taking care of the customer is suppose to be every companies #1 concern- if they want repeat business. So why is it that many companies feel that customer service is a waste of money and choose to ignore the pain their customers are feeling?
We can’t blame everything on COVID-19. Every long line we wait in isn’t happening because every single one of those businesses is struggling. With 329.50 million people in the US, as of the 2020 census, and unemployment having fallen to 10.2% in July, that leaves a pretty large portion of the country who is financially not suffering.
What does that mean? It means that businesses like Blinds.com can get away with leaving new customers on hold for 23 minutes to place their initial order for custom blinds and ‘claim’ to be overwhelmed by the pandemic.
I was willing to wait because I knew when I got someone on the phone, they would help me figure out the measurements to what I needed to have top down button blinds installed- and they did at the cost of 334.08 for both.
But is this an acceptable standard level? What happened to businesses answering their phones and staffing the front line? Talking to bots and endlessly deep phone tree systems, isn’t service at all. It’s incredibly demeaning really if you think about it. Your time isn’t very valuable. Or at least the company thinks so, because they encourage you to talk endlessly to a robot.
We buy when we feel human connection. Emotions drive buying decisions.
FedEx use to have the best customer service. A person answered the phone. They made it easy for you to explain your problem and they were quick to solve it. And if they couldn’t they followed up after the call. Now, just like UPS, you can’t understand most of them, they ask you a million ‘screening’ questions before they will even let you ask where the nearest drop off is to your location, they invariably put you on some long hold, and maybe even then transfer you several times leaving you to start your entire story over.
Is there anything about this that is service oriented? Why are we so often forced to deal with them? Basically because the barriers to entry are too great for anyone to compete with many of them leaving us pushed into become sheep and being herded over the edge.
This week Paypal called me to offer me a great rate for credit card processing. The waived monthly fees and gave me a blended average rate that worked for me. Then I got the contract. There were a string of conditions to the flat rate that the rep never discussed. And those monthly fees were not waived. When I mentioned these things to him, his manager called me back and said ‘Well we are a big company. This is what legal makes us do. We will do everything we agreed to, but sign this document anyways.’
You have got to be kidding right?
And the call ended, ‘Well, Lisa, if you reconsider we will still be here.” And my response” ‘ Change your contract dude. I don’t care how big your company is. You just violated my trust.’
And then take Comcast who changed their name to Xfinity to try and rebrand themselves as ‘innovators’. How did that work for them? They still charge exorbitant rates for services that frequently fail, need constant updates and that you will surely wait a significant time on hold to rectify. But why add more agents and cut into your margin and solve real problems when you can charge just as much and leave people on hold until you have work them into a state of being conciliatory? All they really want is to find someone to talk to who will help them solve this endless stream of challenges and problems. What’s innovative about that? Finding a new level of ripping people off?
But then take Wayfair.com. They have elevated customer service- based on their failure to deliver- to a whole new level. Buy anything from them- or Art.com- have it arrived damaged, and guess what happens? They offer to refund you in full.
A full refund?
‘Yes. Feel free to throw it away, donate or use it. We are sorry to have disappointed you.’
So the ‘new’ customer service model is:
We treat you poorly
We only follow the spreadsheets to see where we are losing numbers
And if we provide numbing customer service to you we really don’t care- as long as it serves us.
And yes, if you are reading this and nodding your head and saying ‘no, this isn’t how I run my business,’ that’s great. The question you have to ask yourself is how many of your prospects have been exposed to this kind of assault and have learned from it and now will treat you with similar disregard for caring enough?
It’s a fair concern. I have seen this too.
Fire them. Make it clear as day that going the extra mile for them, way above and beyond, will never be returned with missed meetings, last minute frequent cancelations and excuses about time management or consistent late payments.
If you want excellent service, and you are given it, respect those who deliver it. When a business fulfills their obligation to you and continues to go above and beyond, be a worthy participant and appreciate them by referring them, showing up on time, being fully present and paying them on time.
Customer service is a two way street. The message businesses are sending to you are not for you to emulate and bestow upon others. They are for you to learn from and find those, instead, who will treat you as you wish to be treated.
We buy from those we like, know and trust. Look into the eyes of any customer service department and you can pretty quickly tell who is giving you a blank stare and seeing if you will hold on and let them take your money while providing the poorest of service to you.
To your highest purpose and best self,
Lisa Canning Linkedin