You’re not listening



Have we lost the idea of customer service?

We’ve all heard the call, or parts of the call, of the poor guy who just wanted to cancel his service with Comcast.

I’ve been on that call. With Comcast. I have horror stories of my own. But we did cancel. That’s another post.

The customer service guy at Comcast was trying to do his job. But he wasn’t listening to the customer.

Somebody missed training the day they studied “the customer is always right.”

Granted, if you’ve ever been in the business side you know that the customer is, in fact, frequently not right.

But in today’s economy, who can afford to lose a customer?

My ISP almost lost a customer yesterday with a snippy comment. I’m trying to transfer a domain from another site (to an almost brand new brilliant site coming your way soon) to the same ISP I use for this blog. Because the email chain went through several people on their service end, and because I was the only constant in the conversation, not all of the information was available to them at the same time. They got a little snippy. And I got a little snippy right back.

I’m in a mood and I’m not afraid to use it.

But their response was correct. Thanks, and let us know if we can help with anything else. After sleeping on it, I contacted them again this morning. Unfortunately their initial “we can do that for you” has turned into “you have to do this and this and this.”

Actually, no, I don’t. Today, they lost me on the new business and seriously threatened our relationship on the existing account. They weren’t rude. They just couldn’t deliver what I need.

Still, had that been a live conversation, or even a phone conversation, it might have played out differently.

They need my business. I need their service.

Actually, I need a service. It doesn’t have to be theirs. And now, it won’t be.

While I never want to seem like a disgruntled customer, I work hard for my money. If you tell me that you can provide a particular product or service, then I sort of expect it.

True story. Several years back we were replacing our stove and refrigerator. We had narrowed our choices down to one of the big box stores (I won’t drop a name, but it rhymes with “rose”). So, with choices in mind and ready to drop a good amount of change, we went back to the store.

There was no one in the appliance department. So we pushed the red button and waited.

And waited.

So we pushed it again. And again.

Then my wife got out her cell phone, called the store, and asked to speak to the manager.

“We’re trying to spend hundreds of dollars in your store, but no one can help us.”

We didn’t need to push the button again.

Look people are busy, tired, overworked and underpaid. I get that. We all feel that way. But it’s no excuse for poor customer service.

I had a reminder myself this week when I turned in articles and my client said, “that’s not what we asked for.” But it was what their client, whom I had interviewed, asked for. So I went with it…assuming.

I assumed wrong. My client was gracious about it and will use what I submitted (as well as pay me for it). But I didn’t deliver what they want.

Message received.

But, I didn’t gripe. I didn’t protest. I said “You’re right. It won’t happen again. How can I make it better?”

That’s customer service.

See, I know that there are other writers willing to do what I do. Probably for a lot less. I need to keep my clients convinced that they hire me for the right reason.

Here in Richmond remember how we all used to shop at Ukrop’s because of their service? It certainly wasn’t that they had the lowest prices in town. Martin’s just doesn’t have that same level of service. And I suspect that the announcement that Wegman’s is moving into the area has a lot of the larger stores concerned.

That’s a good thing.

Back in our money days (before kids) we used to shop a lot at Nordstrom. It was a pleasure to hear the sales clerk say “Here Mr. Fletcher, have a seat while I wrap these up for you.”

Nordstrom knows customer service.

Comcast knows they aren’t the only cable/internet provider around. They just want you to think they are. I’ve never really known them to be about customer service.

No matter what business you’re in gaining and retaining that business relies heavily on customer service. Regardless of what the White House tries to tell us, the economy still stinks.

It just makes no sense to lose business due to poor customer service.

At the same time, that’s no excuse to be a poor customer.

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