We often talk about what you should do in customer service, but what about the things you shouldn't do? You know, those blunders we've all experienced that left us feeling like a company really doesn't care?
Here are some of my less favored customer service experiences. Six perfect examples of what not to do (unless you want really cranky customers)!
1. Neglect to thoroughly read customers' inquiries.
Last week I purchased a pair of earrings on eBay. When they arrived, only days later, I realized I'd ordered the wrong color so I wrote this note to the seller. "Thanks for the prompt delivery of these great earrings. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of ordering the wrong color. Do you carry these earrings in the "Iridescent Glow" style? I was impressed with your pricing and speedy delivery so I'd like to purchase them from you instead of the other vendor who has them in stock. Thank you!"
Here's their response: "Dear Ms. Tabaka, To initiate a return and refund please follow the instructions below. Thank you."
Upon further investigation I discovered that they do carry the earrings I wanted, but the seller didn't bother to take 10 seconds to read my inquiry and lost a customer.
Key Lesson: No matter how busy you are, always make sure to read inquiries, comments, and requests and respond appropriately.
2. Make the customer fight for a solution.
My cable bill has gone up $10 a month for three months in a row. Surely something is wrong. I called my service provider and was told that they are passing along fees attached to some new regulations. Yet two of my friends who use a different provider have seen no such fees. When I expressed this concern to the CSR I was surprised at her response: "Is there anything else I can do for you ma'am?" It wasn't until I threatened to change providers that she consulted with her supervisor and offered to discount my rates.
Key Lesson: Don't make your customer fight for something that you're fully prepared to offer anyway. Remedy the situation at the onset and you'll have a customer for life.
3. Script meaningless apologies.
As a business consultant I'm all about processes and systems, including scripts where appropriate. However, if your employees are unable to execute them in a natural and sincere manner, these scripts can do more harm than good.
When I made the call to schedule a service appointment I was placed on hold for 45 minutes. It bad enough listening to a recorded apology for the long wait times, but the representative who answered my call was definitely insincere with her scripted apology. Such insincerity is offensive and breeds lack of trust; customers who don't trust you will not be around for long.
Key Lesson: Make sure to role play with your employees to ensure that your scripts are delivered naturally and meaningfully. Better yet, get systems in place to avoid the need for apologies!
4. Under-deliver on marketing messages.
When I purchased my new laptop last year I signed up for a year's worth of unlimited training sessions. They sold these sessions as an experience, making it all quite desirable. Yet in all but one of the sessions my trainers have seemed preoccupied and rushed. It wasn't the experience that I signed up for. I've given up on the classes and I'm left with the feeling that this company doesn't care as much as they claim to.
Key Lesson: If your branding includes messages about how unique your company is and how much you care, stay true to your word. If you can't deliver, change the message.
5. Stalk the customers.
When I went on a little clothes shopping spree this summer the saleswoman asked if I would like 20 percent off my purchase. Sure, who wouldn't? All I had to do was initiate a text and headquarters would text the coupon code to me instantly. Of course I was leery, but 20 percent off was too good to pass up. I was no sooner out of the store when I received a text notice about an upcoming sale. Later in the day more arrived, reaching five in total. I tried everything but I could not unsubscribe. I was being stalked!
Key Lesson: Mobile marketing is effective, but respect your customers and value their personal information. Plan your messages and their frequency carefully.
6. Refuse to right a wrong.
I once ordered two lovely adirondack chairs for my patio. After assembling the first chair I was happy with the quality, comfort, and look. However, when I took inventory of the parts for the second chair, one arm was missing. I didn't panic because I knew they'd ship it right out. Wrong! After days of exchanging emails and failed attempts at contacting the company by phone I realized I was stuck with a lemon. They insisted that all of their products are professionally and carefully packed and that I had somehow misplaced the arm. It never was resolved.
Key Lesson: I don't fully subscribe to the old adage that the customer is always right, but use some common sense! Even if it's costly to right a wrong, consider the good will that you will gain by admitting to a mistake and going the extra mile to fix it.
Tell us about your latest customer service nightmare. We can all learn from someone else's mistakes!