Examples of bad customer service make headlines.
We followed the misery of customers trapped underground on a Eurostar train with horror and trembled with rage and indignation when a breast-feeding woman was thrown off a bus.
Because poor customer service makes good copy.
This is bad news if you are a small business hoping to pick up some good publicity for your customer service. People expect to be treated well and only take it to the papers when things go horribly wrong.
But don’t despair. If you have done something really outstanding for your clients there is only one way to get the recognition you desire.
Tell people about it.
Without word of mouth and a great press release no-one is going to know that you saved someone’s life after they collapsed in your shop or that you re-united a long-lost mother and son after you noticed their surnames were the same.
Opportunities for good publicity will not always seem that obvious and often come out of the blue. It is up to you to play the hand you are dealt to your own advantage.
Here is an example of something that did not go well.
When bad snow came to the south of England in December, my daughter found herself stranded in a town ten miles away at an ice skating party. Mothers who had set off up the motorway to get them became stuck in heavy snow. It became apparent the children were going to have to stay the night.
The adults in charge took the school kids to a local hotel. It was snowing hard and it was just days before Christmas. They asked for a room, but there were none.
At this point, from my position at home on the other end of the phone ( frantic with worry though I was), I considered calling up the local BBC radio station. Having worked in local radio I could see an outside broadcast live from the hotel with the school-girls who were stranded overnight. What a great human interest segment in the inevitable round-up of snow related stories.)
But, as news reached me of their treatment by the hotel I was rather glad I hadn’t made the call.
They were not very sympathetic to the kids despite rising hysteria and were going to charge a princely sum to feed them with burgers. They just about tolerated them sitting in the lobby and I think a blanket may have been found.
But what a wasted opportunity. They could have pulled out all the stops and garnered great publicity for the way they rescued the stranded children in this modern-day Christmas tale.
In the end there was a hero, you will be glad to know. A man decided to take his chances with the snow and headed off into the night, leaving our group his hotel key. So happy endings after all.
But the hotel? They were dealt a hand and played it badly.
The lesson is; you can get good publicity out of good customer service. But you must have good customer service to start with.