Friday, September 9, 2011

How much is Good Customer service worth?

   I have been in customer service for over a decade (wow now I feeel old).  I will stay with a company solely because of great customer service, even if their prices are higher, and I am more likely to make an impulse purchase for a company with great customer service.
   Some of my customer service favorites are... Sears..Best policies ever!  One pet peeve is items scanning at the wrong price, catch it at Sears you get the item for free or $5 off which ever it less.  Plus their Kidvantage club, kids wear out clothes just exchange them.  I have boys who go through jeans like mad, so of course this was a great deal..one problem, they never seem to wear through Sears jeans, I guess that's why they can stand by their claim!
   Another is Verizon my wireless carrier, they have helped me lower my plan to something that works for me, not just their advertised plans. 
  But poor customer service is just plain wrong, and an email that I saw posted on Facebook this week really shocked me. Before we get into the email let me show you some stats on the effects of poor customer service:
 CRM Daily posted an example and I really can't explain it better:
http://www.crm-daily.com/story.xhtml?story_id=021000E9CMW9

Now here is some importat information,  sometimes buisnesses feel it is not worth their time in working with a difficult customer, so they would rather sever their ties.  Okay they think one less customer complaining is a good thing.
   But do companies take into affect that that one customer will tell on average 10 people about their bad experience, those 10 people will share with 10 more..and so on.  Now we live in an age of social media to that 10 could easily be 100, and the numbers continue to grow. 

I really want this owner to think of that as I read her twitter posts I was shocked at a complete lack of control on the owner's part:

First the twitter comments

Um yes, talking negativly about a customer in a public forum is not good business practice.  And while not honoring the voucher is something within your practices let's look at your response to the customer:

" just noticed that all your past purchases with us were at deep discounts, which makes me think that is only why you were shopping with us.


Unfortunately, we are no longer offering those deep discounts so you are right, there is no reason for you to come back.
Thanks for making that clear for us to understand!
Le Papier Studio"    This was an actual email sent by the owner of thie website. 

 Even if the orginal email to the company was rude and demanding, which I haven't seen the email, but from the discussion I have seen I don't think it was, this is simply a poor response.

Here is a suggestion for a better response.  "Hi, I am sorry that you are disappointed that we are unable to honor the voucher. Per the terms of the policy the voucher was to have been redeemed before the expiration date or the value is surrendered.  I see that you have been a valued customer and I am sorry for any inconvience this may cause."

  I don't think the latter response took anymore time to craft then the original response, and while the customer may not have been fully satisfied, adding insult to an already disgruntled customer can lead to losing other loyal customer as well as potential new customers.

Now let's look at some additional twitter comments from the owner, that are again in a public forum:
http://twitter.com/#!/lepapierstudio

 Tell me what is the best and worst customer service you have recieved??

An update, the owner did send an apology to the customer, unfortunatly the damage had already been done.  Hopefully it will be a learning lesson. And here is a quote to end on that sums it all up!

3 comments:

Julianne Bruce said...

This amazes me! I can't imagine seeking validation for a business decision through Twitter. And then to go on and deride the person about whom you're tweeting? Venting is one thing, but you do it behind closed doors with your nearest and dearest. You don't whine to the world. It would make me nervous to be a customer of this business. What if I had an issue I needed resolved? Clearly her policies mean more to her than her customers. In addition, would I be the next person on the public chopping block?

Regarding the expired voucher/gift certificate, that's a decision each business owner has to figure out for themselves. However, considering that this customer 1) already spent the money, 2) was ready to make a purchase and 3) was only a month over the time frame are all good reasons to honor the certificate. What good will it would have spread for her to be able to say, "This company was great! Look at the wonderful product I got and they even let me use my expired voucher!" That's the kind of business this customer's friends and family would pay attention to. Instead, there's junior-high style nastiness going on and everyone seems to be upset. At the very least, the customer's money should've been returned.

In my own business, a gift certificate never expires. Someone paid money for a service. I would feel like I'm stealing from a customer if I refused to honor a certificate. To me, it's the same as cash. Even if it's YEARS after the "expiration" (which has occasionally been the case), then how marvelous for my business that I get the chance to make someone a loyal client!

That's another thing that bothers me. This person is obviously a repeat customer--what all business owners strive for. Yet the owner says that the customer has only bought at discounted prices. So she doesn't have the same value as someone who paid full price? Then why is the owner offering discounts? You can't offer something and then look down on the people who take you up on it. She has no idea how many people are in this customer's life who might also want her products--and would pay full price. Every customer is a potential gold mine of referrals.

Unless you insult that customer and publicly hang them out to dry. Then you're just digging your own grave.

For every product or service out there with poor customer service, there are a dozen, a hundred, or a thousand others offering the same thing with good customer service. I'm sure this woman's customer, as well as the customer's friends and family--and possibly anyone else who was appalled by her lack of professionalism in Tweeting this whole mess--will be glad to give their business to one of those competitors.

Jamie Wagers said...

Julianne,
I agree email that was sent is one thing, but then to insult the customer on a public forum is another matter all together.
However from the owner's most recent response, I did confirm that a letter of apology was sent and do appreciate the effort that was made on the part of the buisness owner.

Stephanie said...

Seriously, what company posts about a customer?!? This is crazy. Then she goes on to say about an army against her... well word of mouth spreads fast with technology, so what did she expect? If you know/understand facebook and twitter, this should NOT come as a shock to you.