The Death of Customer Service Is A Crime!
Everybody has their own stories of customer service gone wrong—stories ranging from things that leave us slightly irked to full-on service nightmares. It may just be the added coverage that we get from sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook, but it seems to me that these stories are far too prevalent.
When I decided to write this article, a few stories popped into my head. The first is one in which I am out at a local restaurant and bar with a good friend of mine. We ordered the usual Coors Light Draught and shots of Jack. We then ordered the buffalo chicken pizza. When the pizza comes out, we each take a slice, take a bite, take another and ask one another,
“Is this Barbecue or buffalo?” We consult the menu and realize they gave us the wrong pizza.
When the waiter returns to check on us, we let him know of the mix-up. He offers to put the corrected pizza in for us, but I had a date for drinks after that and could not afford the time to stick around and wait for another pizza.
The waiter confirms and leaves the table and does not offer to get his manager whatsoever.
The waiter delivers the check at the end of the meal and we see that he has not done anything to even discount the pizza. We talk to the waiter again to ask again if there is anything that he can do. He still refuses.
This is fairly tame compared to many stories that my readers probably have, I am sure, but it really shows an issue that is prevalent in business: the inability to look forward.
Instead of the restaurant eating the cost of a $12 pizza, they lost two customers—there are too many other pizza places to try!—as well as anybody that we tell this story to.
My friend and I try and do dinner and drinks at least once a week—how much money do they lose as a result of being removed from the list of places that we will go on a given week? The amount of money they made off of that sale is minimal.
The second story is not really a nightmare, but more of an indicator of the direction that business seems to be going.
I called up a technology retailer looking for a device to read credit cards on cell phones. (This company derives its name from a fruit, but I will refrain from saying the name for fear of getting sued!)
The conversation went as follows:
(metallic voice) “Thank you for calling [fruit store]; is this business or personal?”
“Thank you for selecting ‘business.‘ What can we help you with?”
“I am looking for a credit card reader, do you have these?”
“Allow me to send you to a representative to help with your request.”
“Thank you for calling [fruit store]. What can I help you with?”
“Do you guys sell credit card readers?”
“Yes, we do.”
“Thank you.” Click.
The more I thought about this, the more annoyed I got. I felt like they completely wasted my time. What turned out to be a five second exchange took nearly four minutes to complete. Slowly but surely, jobs are being replaced by technology—and not well, I might add. Technology is here to add convenience to our lives…. Nope, missed the mark there.
The truth is that customer service is dead. We are performing an autopsy to determine time of death, but it is gone…possibly for good. I walk into a store and try to chat with the cashier and they give me a deer in headlights look accompanied by one-word answers. I have the urge to tell them,
“Listen, you’re about this close to being replaced by Amazon,” but I refrain.
Consumer demands have put less emphasis on customer service. There is such a negative connotation with the word “sales” and “salespeople.” Customers will research as much as they can on a product before they will deal with a salesperson. If they can cut the salesperson out of the actual sale, even better. This is the concept that your online businesses thrive off of.
All industries need to get back to the fundamentals. The Latin root
of the world “sales” literally means to serve.
As a salesperson, I am called to put your needs ahead of mine. You need a product or service, I can provide it for you…I just happen to get compensated for it. Far too often, employees get “commission breath.” This translated to a salesperson putting their need for compensation ahead of the customer’s need.
Things are far too business-focused these days. It needs to be customer-centered again. There was even a story just this year about Tesla Motors getting booted from New Jersey. I’ll withhold any jokes about not wanting to be in New Jersey, anyway. This just shows that customer service scares the bigwigs in the business world.
Tesla wanted to control not only the products that they sell, but also the environment and customer experience that their customers were greeted with. By New Jersey law, you can only sell cars in a dealership format, greasy salesman and all. Tesla refused to adhere to that, so the hottest name in the automotive world can no longer be sold in New Jersey.
As readers of Modern Gladiator, let’s find a way to support those companies that are doing things right.
For those that are providing excellent service, do your best to go back—even if it costs a few extra dollars in comparison to online providers. Ten years from now, you won’t remember that you paid $50 extra for that TV, but you will remember the buying experience.
Anybody on the other side of this equation (as a sales or service person), do your absolute best to go above and beyond for a customer. What’s that old adage?
If you give a customer a good experience, they will refer three people to you. If you give them a poor experience, they will tell hundreds. Keep that in mind as you are speaking to customers.
I have forty more years in business before I can retire.