A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of presenting a two day workshop for an out-of-town, client.
The event took place in a local hotel and as several of the participants were also from out of town and we were all staying at the same hotel, I was invited to join them for dinner.
Shortly after we had ordered our meal the conversation turned to customer service.
A lady at the table began by sharing her frustration in trying to deal with a local realtor. She and her husband decided to list their home and purchase a larger one as they are planning on starting a family.
For the past several years a local realtor had been regularly stuffing her mailbox with glossy brochures showing photos of his successes and bragging of his commitment to his clients.
Over the past three weeks she had made several attempts to contact him – all to no avail. On one occasion he had answered her phone call and told her he would get back to her within five minutes. She has not spoken to him since.
No sooner had she completed her sad story than one of her colleague’s spoke of taking a day off work and spending the entire day at home waiting for a plumber, who had agreed to be at her home by 10 AM.
He did not show up or bother with a phone call, nor did he answer his phone when she tried to call him. When she finally reached him by phone the following day he did not offer an apology but simply told that he had been busy on another job.
Then Frank told us of his experience in buying a product from an online company and paying extra for next day delivery.
The product arrived eight days later and when he called to complain and asked for a refund of the extra shipping charge he was told that it was company policy to NEVER issue refunds, that “$#!+ happens” and that he would receive a credit towards future shipping costs.
Then we heard about the nightmare experience at the local car dealership.
And the office printer that was out of service for 8 days because the technician was too busy to come back after his first attempt at fixing the problem had failed.
And the day-care operator who left her charges in the care of her 9 year old daughter while she went grocery shopping.
And the restaurant owner who told Brenda – who had the audacity to send her meal back because it was cold – that if she didn’t like the food she could leave and never come back.
And the stories went on and on.
And each of us can contribute stories of our own.
And it just makes no sense to me.
Providing excellence in customer experiences should be at the forefront of every business strategy.
No business can possibly survive without customers and it amazes me how frequently that business maxim is ignored.
Service excellence shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm.
Our business has to be earned, not expected.
And we all have a role to play in making that happen.
If collectively we all agreed to accept nothing less; to reward those who provide exceptional customer service with repeat business and referrals to our friends and colleagues and to share our poor experiences and “unrecommendations” with those same friends and colleagues.
To be fair, before we relay our stories to anyone we do need to share our concerns with those who have disappointed us and give them an opportunity to redeem themselves.
Make it possible for them to earn back our business
I believe if we all demanded excellence from those whose products and services we purchase and held them accountable for their actions, the day will come when fabulous customer service will be the norm, not the exception.
And my dinner companions from the other night would all agree that that day can’t come soon enough.
Anyone know a good realtor/plumber/delivery service/dealership/printer technician/day-care operator/restaurant owner?
Till we read again.
P.S.My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
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