Let’s Avoid Customer Disappointment

August 4th, 2010 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

The US economy has continued moving away from manufacturing and towards services.  Certain services and manufacturing can be outsourced and off-shored but not all of them. Let’s take a look at a scenario.

New Microwave – That Is Easy

I recently purchased a microwave oven to replace a broken built-in one.  I did not own the home when the prior microwave, face kit and special air-circulating base were installed.  I knew I was limited by the dimensions of the box where the microwave was built-in

I searched online at the General Electric Appliances site for a microwave that had the correct dimensions.  The name of the series for my microwave had changed so I could not find it that way.  I spent significant time trying to discern what was the correct size and model for my needs.

New Microwave –That Is Not Easy

Then, I looked for dealers who carried the model.  Several of them were not open seven days per week so I crossed them off my list since speed was of the essence.  As a result, I drove twice as far to pick-up the unit from a dealer.

That dealer was helpful on the phone, but did not know if the new microwave would fit on the old stand and inside the faceplate.  I had to carry everything into the store and see if it would be correct.  Why not equip the dealers and customers via the web site with the information?  Microwaves wear out and customers might purchase the same brand.

Missed The Expense

I felt lucky that I avoided having to spend $300 for a new kit to go with my $159 microwave.  Everything fit perfectly.  I installed everything and all was well for a month.  Then, the light bulb stopped working.  I phoned the dealer who dispatched a GE repairman for the next day.

How Long Do You Wait For the Repairman?

Unfortunately, I was given a four-hour window for when the repairman would come.  He arrived 15 minutes after the four-hour window.  Most importantly, he did not have the bulb, which was the whole point of the service call.

The result was an additional wait for the bulb to be delivered by mail and then for the repairman to install it.  On the original call, the repairman would not even check the unit without the bulb to see if it had an electrical issue.  I was left to wonder if the bulb will solve the problem and maybe it will not.  I needed to hold another four-hour window for the next service call.  I was able to have the service man come early in the four-hour window after practically begging him.  So what happened?  The bulb fit and the repairman was gone in a matter of minutes.

I draw a couple of key lessons learned from the situation.

  1. Make it easy for customers to buy your product.
  2. Don’t make your customers wait for hours for promised service.
  3. Have the necessary materials when making a service call.  Especially, when you are told what the problem is in advance.

The Takeaway

Customer Service is an integral part of your business.  Delight the customer instead of disappointing the customer.

Over to you.  What is on your mind?  Please comment below.

  1. How do you provide excellent customer service?
  2. Have you experienced similar scenarios?
  3. How do you reward employees for providing excellent customer service?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page or e-mailing me at rcberman2@yahoo.com.

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14 comments

  1. Rob, are you sure you weren’t describing an event in MY life? LOL. I always wonder who is actually first (or even second) on a list at the beginning of any service time window. I DO know who is on the end – that would be me.

    You bring up the importance of customer service in business – especially in such a highly competitive and technologically-advanced society that we find ourselves in today. Customer reviews play an important marketing role in the form of word-of mouth advertising. They can be formal review processes like Amazon has, or informal somewhere on the social web. Customers are reviewing your business whether you know/like it or not so as you say, business owners should do everything they can to avoid disappointing their customers.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and your insights.

  2. Christy says:

    I think any type of home appliance repair is an exercise in frustation. We purchased a new wine frige in April. Within a week, the cooling mechanism was not working. (please note that we had well over 50 bottles of wine in the fridge.) We called and had a repairman come out. He said the cooling unit “probably” had to be replaced. He’d order one, but in the meantime, he cleaned the existing unit out (which he did).

    Now remember this was in April….

    We received a call last week (3 months later!) that the part had come in. We were extremely fortunate that the original “cleaning out” seemed to have fixed the problem, but we had them come out and replace the unit anyways just in case.

    During that 3 month period we never received as much as one phone call following up on the progress. We honestly had completely forgotten about it until we got the call. Worst service experience ever- and while we got a great deal, I’ll never shop there again.

    So even if you go through the motion of making it right, the way that you do so matters as well in retaining a customer.

  3. Rob
    Your story remindes me of a time I hired a painter to paint an addition to my house. He arrived at 10 am and looked around the rooms. He left 15 minutes later to get a paint brush! When he came back he worked for about 45 min before breaking for lunch. He worked an additional hour before leaving for the day. I finished the room that night and fired him.

    As a business owner you need to be prepared to provide the promised services. Services should be timely and better than expected.

  4. Susan Oakes says:

    Hi Rob,

    I have experienced what you went through. However a few months ago a DVD player broke down. After finding the service line i was told that they would pick up the player when it suited me, repair it and then deliver it back.

    Great service and whta they have is a partnership with a courier company. While they probably included the cost into the repair, it was a saving of my time.

    One other point about customer service is to find out what is the best for customers and your business and step out the process with costings. It might surprise some that like the example above different approaches can increase customer satisfaction.

    • Rob Berman says:

      Susan:

      Customer service comes in many flavors. The idea of teaming with a courier company is brilliant. You were impressed and shared the story with many potential customers. The company and you, the customer, both win.

      Rob

  5. Michael Trouillon says:

    Well said Rob…many many times I have actually paid more or gone out of my way due to GREAT customer service…and likewise have not done business with place that gave bad service.

  6. Once upon a time, businesses knew the people who bought from them. There was limited choice of products, services and options. Then the choices grew and people started to make decisions by buying from all kinds of different places and different alternatives. Choice gave the consumer the ability to shop around on price, on varieties and on service.
    When a business does not keep the buyer happy, the buyer today has choice. When a business does not treat their client as special, the client can look elsewhere for service.
    Too many businesses forget that you and I have choice and we want the businesses that we deal with to Appreciate, Acknowledge and Accept us, our needs and our expectations around value

  7. A lot of companies have forgotten a simple fact – you disappont one customer you lose ten. You will never buy anything from them again, will you?

  8. Rob, customer service has changed little since the ranting of Tom Peters in the 1980s. Just after that I became a corporate trainer and was often called in to deliver customer service training programs. In reality, company management RARELY want to do little more than smile training so in the end, the customer loses.

    Your questions with a few of my thoughts:
    1. How do you provide excellent customer service? I try to over deliver: earlier than promised, more than promised and an unconditional satisfaction guarantee.

    2. Have you experienced similar scenarios? Hundreds of times – well! More time than I care to count and certainly more times than the BETTER customer service scenarios which always make me quite grateful.

    3. How do you reward employees for providing excellent customer service? When I was a sales manager we used customer service as a key factor in the selection of the employee of the year – they selected a trip anywhere in the USA for a weekend with their spouse; we recognized people in monthly meetings for their outstanding service with praise and sometimes plaques.

    I’d love to hear about what works today in the recognition area.

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