I’ve had some really crappy customer service recently. And it’s got me a bit rattled, so I thought I’d put fingers to keyboard, and vent a little.
“Choose Express Post and your T-shirts will be with you in time for the Hottest 100!” Well I did, and yet they weren’t… They arrived on the Tuesday after the Sunday countdown and are now sitting in a redundant heap on the kitchen table. $12.95 doesn’t sound much, but it’s the principle. Two emails of complaint to customer service later and I’m nowhere near getting even a decent apology, let alone my money back. It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it? Or, better still, there’s the age-old caveat of “during periods of unprecedented demand”… But how was this unprecedented? These T-shirts were specifically designed for the most infamous event in the Triple J calendar AND, get this, they were on sale to raise money for Lifeline. Ipso facto, they were meant to zooooom off the shelves!
Then there’s the coffee machine I bought my husband before Christmas. He has one of those December birthdays which is tricky – do you go large for the birthday, or save it for a couple of weeks? I went early in this case. But the honeymoon of that “we now have our own coffee machine, look how much money we’re saving” feeling was shattered a few weeks after Christmas when it started leaking water out of the bottom like a sieve. First, the (reputable) café owners didn’t believe me and tried it themselves to check there was actually an issue. Erm, thanks for the vote of confidence. Then they sent it off to the manufacturers to be fixed, leaving me with no apology, and no way of making coffee in the meantime. The vortex that is the ‘service centre’ means no one could tell me when our machine would be back in my possession. And the little information I did glean was through me making all the effort – visiting the café, plus calling up for an update. When it did return, a couple of weeks later (a couple of weeks!!), it was all smiles from the café dude, free coffee beans, and an escorted product placed back in my car.* He was lovely and a far cry from the sheepish, somewhat sullen, confrontation-avoiding man I dealt with at the time of crisis.
Finally, for a Throwback Thursday experience which has never left me, there is the introduction of the (somewhat annoying) host at the front of your classic retail store whose role is to essentially trap you en route to where you want to go. Seemingly friendly, but often very far from interested in allowing you through. In this particular store, I wanted to buy what a retailer would refer to as ‘an accessory’ rather than a large ticket item. They live at the back of the store, far from where I was accosted. So, I was eventually deemed not worthy enough to be restrained any longer, and allowed to free roam. I wasn’t impressed with the selection, and I had questions to clarify. Looking round, no one was free – I was in the area where the hard-core contracts were being signed, and everyone was head down with their respective customers. I therefore left, went across the road to a competitor and spent triple the amount of money I intended to thanks to some real ‘fluffing’ and metaphorical ‘stroking’. They elevated my mere accessory to a real ‘must have’ and I left the store with two of them, a real pep in my step, and quite the unnoticeable dent in my wallet.
Some observations on the above:
- No brand is beyond the need to care and serve
- The customer should always be given the benefit of the doubt
- Employees need to be equipped to have tough conversations
- Don’t let bad will build and fester – keep customers in the loop
- ‘Service’ shouldn’t ever be about getting rid of people/putting them off/moving on to the next person**
- Never judge a customer’s spending power by the size of their wishlist – the big ticket item lurks in all of us
They say that an unhappy customer tells 9-15 people about their bad experience – think I’ve just done a little more than that – and it takes 12 good experiences to make up for one bad one.*** So, time for a name and shame? It’s 24Hundred, the T-shirt provider; Coffee Brothers in Mona Vale; and good old Telstra, who lost out to Apple!
Michelle is always open to having a discussion about your brand, your customers, and your employees, and overcoming pitfalls. She promises not to talk about herself in the third person again, unless absolutely necessary.
* In his enthusiasm to close my boot, and get me the hell outta there, he forced his grip against the electric closing feature. And now, on occasion, it doesn’t close properly… 😩
** Centrelink and Medicare, take note!