You don’t need a PhD in marketing to know that good customer service is essential. If people have got as far as handing over money in response to your offer then they should be made to feel as good about it as possible.
So why is it that on at least five occasions in the last month I have been left feeling like a dupe?
Here are 5 real life examples of bad customer service as experienced by me.
- First up the AA breakdown service. As I stood by the side of the M1 motorway with my entire family wrapped in blankets the telephone operator attempted to locate me. ‘So you’re on the M1, is that clockwise or anti clockwise?’ My problem? Ignorance. The M1 is the UK’s oldest north/south motorway. Upshot ? She sent the truck to the wrong place.
- In at number 2, Strada Pizza. They refused to take a two for one voucher at a restaurant in Center Parcs despite there being nothing on the voucher to say that this offer was restricted. When I wrote to their head office to complain I do not get a reply. Result? A very unhappy customer who has not been heard.
- Daniels Department store. In their favour I will say straight up that they did give me my money back. Thank you. However, the assistant argued with me for a long, long time about it. I was returning a £6 toy which was badly made and didn’t really work. They argued that this was simply how they were made and so it was my choice/my loss. Result? I decided to go to John Lewis next time because they are always nice to me when I take things back. (Note to self; fighting with shop assistants is a skill. I think I did ok.)
- Tenpin Bowling. Booking an hours bowling with my family should be simple. It’s not. They have a website which I found personally to be so twistedly unusable that I was actually crying when I came off. I circled one particular task 3 times before getting it right. Despite the fact that it kept telling me that I was going to be saving money by booking online I felt that I was being offered no discount when then the final total came up and I had been made to do all the work. Complain? You can call our 10p a minute phone line. No thanks. So now they think I am a satisfied customer. I am not.
- Opticians Dollond and Aitchison. I once took my youngest daughter to get her eyes checked. She was fine. We used D and A because they have a reputation for quality service and the service was indeed good. But for several years now they have been mailing me letters telling me that I must bring my daughter in for a check up. The more I do nothing the more irritating letters I seem to get. The message behind these mail shots is that by ignoring them I am risking my daughter’s health. I resent the suggestion. It may only be perceived on my part but it’s enough for me to know I won’t use them again. A friend has had exactly the same experience so, don’t do it D and A, you are losing customers.
Listening to customers is one of the most valuable things a business can do. For all I know every one of the companies above thinks they are doing a really great job. It is up to us to tell them that they are not.
Thanks for reading. If you found this content useful I would love to work on blog posts with you. Sharing useful content is one of the best ways to improve your customers’ experience. Together we could get your message out there. I use twitter and other social media to drasticaly improve your bottom line. One client has reported orders up 50% on last year since we started working together.
Click over to the About Me page or mail me Lucy.Thorpe@btconnect.com to find out more.
Bad Customer Service – What They Really Think of Their Customers
Read This Before You Get into Video
Tips for Cleaner Writing
Why You Need The Social Media Shield
What Makes A Memorable Ad ?
My friend Jane wants me to stick the boot into Boden after getting a glossy catalogue in the post full of tropical swim-wear. It’s the middle of winter for hell’s sake ! Porn for the polenta classes ? You bet.
But at least they ‘re honest about it. They just want to sell us clothes while we’re stuck indoors dreaming of summer.
And boy do they want to sell us clothes. They have one of the most persistent marketing strategies I have seen outside Pizza delivery firms, hitting you several times at key points during the season until you have a stack of catalogue, each subtly different.
The one that comes out in the bleak midwinter tactfully puts its flimsy dresses towards the back and pushes the cardies up front. Later on we get a few new headline items and a re-jig of the clothes. That can’t actually cost them that much as the clothes appear to be shot in one batch, sometime last year.
Considering how annoying over-persistent campaigning can be, this is remarkably effective. Boden has become a by-word for middle class style (smugness if you’re feeling satirical) with annual profits of 22 million pounds. Michelle Obama is a fan. Hell I have been known to make the odd purchase although it makes me feel too much like a yummy mummy for comfort.
So, I won’t be sticking the boot in today. Instead I will be observing that shouting about what you do on a regular basis, mixing it up a bit to keep it fresh but essentially delivering what your customers want, seems to be a recipe for success.
So, anyway. I’ve started this great new hobby. I sing in a choir !
I know it sounds like I’ve turned into my mother but it is actually really cool. We sing gospel and Motown type stuff and once you stop feeling stupid it is very therapeutic. We ‘ooooohh’ and ‘ahhhhhhh’ as if we were member of the Supremes without the spangly dresses. A girl can dream.
If you’re wondering why I’m sharing this with you it’s because it is also a successful business. It’s a smart idea and the choirs are spreading. I should imagine that the copyright on the songs and arrangements is the biggest cost and once that is sorted, the more choirs you have the more income you can generate.
But even though I love it and admire the business model I have a problem.
As a member I am being asked to attend public events, which can only amount to free publicity for the brand, purchase branded clothing and listen to quite a lot of ‘heavy sell’. When a lot of people are handing over cash for an experience like this it would be better to take a slightly lighter approach and at least give members the illusion that they have a stake in it. If you take your customers for granted then they may vote with their feet.
I am signed up for another term, so I’m prepared to go with the flow for the moment. But never under-estimate the consumer, we need to be treated with respect.