Good Quality Customer Service

As business owners, providing good quality customer service should be a top priority.

One thing about Web 2.0… when your customers don’t experience good quality customer service, they can usually find someone who is blogging about either the product or service you provide OR about rotten customer service experiences. Even if your upset customer isn’t a blogger, he or she can surely comment on a few hundred blogs easily enough, including the ones maintained by your local media outlets.

Catherine Lawson shares 4 Amazingly Stupid Ways To Lose Customers and can’t help but sharing the business that inspired her to write the list.

Steven Bradley over at VanSEODesign writes in his post Practicing Good Customer Service Is The Best Way To Market It

It’s hard to find a business nowadays that doesn’t claim to provide excellent service, but how many really do?

You can claim all you want that you care about your customers, but unless you really do those claims are worthless.

Marketing it as good won’t change the fact that the service is awful. And when your customers talk about it they going to tell others about their bad experience.

I’ve been battling customer service demons left and right lately. The most recent was last Thursday. It began when my home phone rang and I answered it. On the other end of the line was a college recruiter who wanted to speak to my soon to be a senior in high school son about playing football (on scholarship) for their university. Unfortunately, the next six phone calls in the next few hours were not college scouts but rather telemarketers. Three of those phone calls were from Cooking Light Magazine.

I had subscribed to Cooking Light Magazine to help support the organization that runs the football kicking combines in which my son competes. Because I had subscribed in that manner, they had my phone number. What a horrible, AWFUL mistake.

This is the SECOND time Cooking Light Magazine has unleashed their demon dialer upon me. Last month, my phone began to ring incessantly. Hanging up or ignoring the calls seemed to be interpreted as a sign to “call more often”. After two days of this, I answered the phone and ran the gauntlet. I listened patiently and pushed buttons to indicate I wouldn’t be renewing my subscription which expired 6 months from that time. Now, it’s happening again!

I was enraged. I went to the Cooking Light Magazine website to get a number for customer service. THERE ISN’T ONE LISTED! I dug out the last issue and after much searching, found the phone number in 2 point arial font on the last page of the magazine. I called and was subjected to yet another push button automated guantlet.

As I struggle through this, I have the subscription services page up for Cooking Light Magazine. There I see that their “sister” publications are:

–Coastal Living – for people who love the coast
–Health – America’s best source for women
–Southern Living – the best of the South
–Southern Accents – fine interiors & gardens

DARN! I like ALL of those magazines and right now, I’ll be da@ned if I will EVER buy or subscribe to ANY of them.

When I finally reach a human, she’s begins by asking me if I’d like to share my email address with them.

“HELL NO! ” was my enthusiastic response. “I’m sorry that you have my phone number! Why in the WORLD would I give you my email address as well?”

She’s confused by my anger. She doesn’t understand why I don’t want to get five or more automated calls a day for weeks on end. When I ask for my number to be removed, I’m told it will take 90 days.

So, for the next 3 months, I can expect to experience times where I can either have my phone ring off the hook or I can spend 15 minutes to listen to pre-recorded spiels trying to get me to renew my subscription to a magazine.

My name is on the roles… they think I’m a customer. But I’m not. I’ll never purchase their magazine again because of the treatment at the hands of their customer service department. Instead of a customer, they’ve created an enemy. Just as the businesses Catherine writes about in her post about losing customers have created enemies as well.

Writing this post reminded me of when Patrick wrote about a customer service disaster with Ingram-Micro: Unfriendly to Small Business?

Think those rant style blog posts don’t stick in readers’ heads? Think again!

In Patrick’s case, he got a prompt apology from Justin Crotty, VP of North American Operations.

Nobody’s perfect. Good quality customer service is often a goal rather than a reality. However, in the case of Ingram Micro, they are actively managing their “brand” and standing behind their stated desire to provide good quality customer service. Justin illustrated how sometimes a customer service disaster can actually demonstrate your dedication to providing good quality customer service! I know I was impressed to see Justin’s prompt reply to Patrick’s post.

Joan Elias was the owner of the ad agency that gave me my break. She used to say, ” A satisfied customer will tell 3 people. A dissatisfied customer will tell 12.” Recent research puts that figure at closer to 16… and that’s without factoring in the power of Web 2.0.

There’s a lot of talk about “branding”… well branding is nothing more than a customer’s experience with your company, pure and simple!