Do You Delight Or Destroy Your Customers? (Expect the unexpected.)
It’s baffling how badly some of the largest corporations in the world treat their customers. And I receive bad customer service, I get first-hand experience of the frustrations we all feel when we have less than satisfying interactions.
For me, I have become so cynical and pessimistic about what I expect from customer service that I have simply lowered them. But bad customer service shouldn’t be the standard experience, and there are plenty of examples of companies bucking this trend.
When A Company Delights You, You Know It!
When a company provides exceptional customer service, we know it. It seems rare for this to happen, but we know it when we see it. Here are some great examples:
Delta Airlines: Delta wants to be friendly, caring and helpful. My experience with them is that they deliver on this promise. Before you’re passed – quickly – to a service representative, they ask you to take a “Five Second, One Question” survey after your call. Here’s their question: “Would you hire the representative who just helped you?” That’s it and it’s powerful. Just a simple Yes or No response. Think about what that means. The service representative knows full well that if you take the survey, it will directly affect their performance rating, and quite possibly their job.Thus, they go to any length they can to make you happy and have you answer “yes” to the survey. It’s brilliant. It forces the entire company to not only serve the customer, but also to make them happy. Customer Delighted!
Chick-Fil-A: This organization, controversial in its core-values to some people, goes out of it’s way to differentiate itself from other fast-food competitors. It’s common to find managers (not lower-level employees) stand outside and greet you as you pull up expecting to blurt your kiosk order. Instead, with a tablet, the store manager pleasantly asks your name and seamlessly takes your order. When you pull up to pay and receive your food, the cashier says your name and thanks you for your business. They may even remember you the next time. I don’t know of any other low price point competitor that provides that level of service. It’s unexpected and memorable. The food is also a notch above others in the same category, and I assume, their repeat business is well above average. Customer Delighted!
SpeakersMatch: Since entering the speaking circuit business, I’ve worked with several speaking services that all have their own process and requirements for posting materials. Sometimes they are complicated and cumbersome. SpeakersMatch.com charges all of $50 per month for membership. At that low rate, you can imagine it’s hard be profitable if they provide much live customer service. However, the representatives I’ve encountered are highly educated and extremely knowledgeable about both their products and the industry. In one month alone, I estimate that I spent about two hours getting support and a great education. They were patient and willing to not only help but to advise me on how to succeed. The service was exceptional and was not expected. They have earned my loyalty and a recurring revenue stream. Customer Delighted!
The Enemies Are Within
Unfortunately, not all companies understand that going above and beyond can differentiate them in a world of low expectations and lead to exponentially higher returns. The names of the companies will go nameless.
Global Social Media Company: This world-wide company pioneered social media and for the most part got it right to dominate the industry. They tweaked and improved their platform and gained users throughout the world, providing access to friends and groups in a way that had never happened before. Then they turned a corner and began gathering our personal data without our knowledge or approval. Our privacy was, and continues to be, violated. Our once great impression of this organization has been shattered and their reputation has been tarnished. And, there’s literally no way for a user to talk to a live service representative. Relationship Destroyed!
Global Timeshare Company: Most of the top hotel chains in the world also offer timeshare units. Timeshare membership took off in the ‘80s and it’s a common option for frequent vacationers. But, over the years, the price of admission has skyrocketed. Getting people to visit their properties is the important first step, and their two-hour presentations are polished. To lure people through the front door, they offer gifts (e.g. money, dinners, show tickets), after hearing their full pitch. On one occasion, I was offered a deal I didn’t turn down – a full dinner for two and two show tickets. It seemed like a no-brainer. But, after a short while into the presentation, it became very apparent that this world-wide brand was using hard-ball, aggressive tactics that played to our fears. After finishing the grueling two and a half-hour presentation (yes, they quoted only two hours), and stating that we were not interested, they then made us talk to two other people who yet again aggressively attempted to sell us something. The prices magically lowered and the offers got sweeter. It was very offensive and we were completely turned off. We will not forget this experience and our feelings about the brand in general have been badly affected. Relationship Destroyed!
National Telecom Company: In queue for twenty minutes just to get to a service rep, after inputting all my account information, I was then put on hold to get to another ‘specialist.’ Then, waiting another ten minutes to have the rep ask me all over again for my account information, two sets of secure passwords and birth date and my father’s father’s father’s city of birth, the saga continued. Often times, I’m transferred to yet another ‘specialist’ who promises to help. Sometimes that can’t. Which customer ever wants to go through that, ever? Has their CEO ever gone through the same process to see how their customers are treated? It’s mind blowing. Relationship Destroyed!
You might think that the larger an organization gets, the easier it is for them to perfect their customer service experience. But, that’s clearly not the case. Understandably, it’s difficult, but not impossible, and delivering exceptional, unexpected service is not only possible, it’s clearly a way to differentiate themselves in this ever increasingly competitive world.
It’s your choice – delight or destroy!
Go Slay Dragons!