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Tag Archive for customer service

Customer Service Gone Wrong

What You Need to Avoid

 

 

Why does negative news spread so much faster than positive?

Because we all love a good story! But when it happens to you, it’s not so funny.

People love reading about bad customer service stories. They go viral because we’ve all been there – on the phone desperately needing help from customer service, or waiting in an endless line at the airport.

When you read about a bad customer experience, you feel empathy (and maybe some outrage) on behalf of the wronged party. It’s maddening when companies disregard the same customers they’re meant to serve, and it’s a near-universal experience.

Check out these five horribly bad customer service examples and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Walmart’s Pricing Blunder

You walk into your local Walmart and see a Lego set you want to buy for your son. You notice that the item at the store costs 35% more than the same exact Lego set on Walmart’s own website. What? Yes really. That’s exactly what happened to Clark Howard. But when he asked the team to meet their company’s online price, Walmart refused to price-match.

So he pulled up his phone and ordered the product online for an in-store pick-up. Howard says, “My son and I stood there and watched as a different employee came a few minutes later, picked the item up off the shelf, and brought it back to the holding spot for pickup.” Because Howard didn’t receive the email confirmation from Walmart.com until the following day, he couldn’t bring the item home that day. Instead, Howard had to go back to the store the next day — inconvenient, to say the least. Although Walmart doesn’t require that store managers match online prices, it would have been the best (and only) response in this scenario.

Takeaway

When companies prioritize a policy above the needs of customers, it shows. If you’re not sure how to respond in a scenario, think about what’s the kindest, most honest thing to do. This can easily prevent really bad customer service stories from happening on your watch.

2. Comcast’s New Low

There are lots of reasons not to like cable providers. You always have to argue for a fair rate, and most of the time, you don’t get what you need. But even in this not-so-helpful industry, Comcast is America’s most hated company.

In 2015, when Lisa Brown called to cancel the cable TV portion of her service, she was transferred to a retention specialist specifically trained to talk her out of it. She didn’t back down, though. Much to her surprise and agitation, the next service bill she received was addressed not to her husband, Ricardo Brown, but to “Asshole Brown.”

Just days after Brown’s story went viral, three more customers of the TV cable provider came forward reporting their names had been changed to derogatory words. Although Comcast leaders apologized to the customers and offered a two year refund, the incident still made waves. Because customers hate Comcast’s pricing model, and so many people can relate to the frustration, the story resonated with millions.

Takeaway

This bad customer service example typifies a work culture where employees are so fed up, they’re willing to sacrifice their jobs to make a point, and get a laugh. The best way to cultivate an empathetic customer service team is to treat the team with empathy, too. This sense of shared appreciation and respect will naturally extend to customers.

 

 

3. Target’s Trolling Incident

Not too long ago Target announced that they were changing how girls and boys items were advertised in their stores. In an attempt to create a more supportive and open environment for children, Target removed gender-based signs in some of their kids’ sections. Although a lot of people appreciated the change, some customers saw it as a move away from tradition for the sake of “political correctness” and commented on Target’s Facebook page.

Soon after, a Facebook user pretended to be Target’s help desk and trolled these unhappy customers. The Facebook user changed their name to “Ask For Help” and used the Target bullseye as their profile picture. They wrote snarky replies which did not bode well with the already livid customers. The perception was that Target didn’t care about their views.

Takeaway

As customer service expands into social media, there’s an increased risk for fake accounts that enrage (rather than delight) customers. Vigilance is the key to preventing a bad customer service example at your business. Always keep an eye on social media accounts. Although it can be difficult to stop these scenarios from happening, the quicker you shut them down, the better.

4. United’s Big Goof Up

United Airlines’ first big goof up happened in 2008 when United employees recklessly damaged the guitar of musician David Carroll. Sitting in his airplane seat, Carroll saw employees throwing around his guitar on the tarmac, powerless to protect his property. Like any concerned customer, Carroll went through the proper channels to report both the behavior and subsequent damage. “I notified three employees, who showed complete indifference toward me,” says Carroll.

The customer service experience was so appalling, it inspired Carroll to write and record a song called “United Breaks Guitars.” This musical rendering of his bad customer experience has been on YouTube for eight years, and it’s received over 17 million views! Employee indifference to the company’s mistakes ballooned into a PR nightmare for United.

Takeaway

Don’t you remember the Golden Rule? Treat others how you want to be treated. Empathy is the key to building a successful customer service team. If employees don’t care about the mistakes their company makes — and how they affect individuals — they’re not going to be invested in positive change.

Practice empathy with customers by asking more questions and mirroring their answers. No matter how difficult the situation, they’ll feel heard.

5. Gasp’s Retail Gaffe

Have you ever been in a shop and gotten snubbed by the staff? When Keara O’Neil went to an Australian clothing store called Gasp looking for bridesmaids dresses, the salesperson was pushy and mean, implying O’Neil didn’t have good enough taste to appreciate the company’s dresses.

O’Neil followed up with management over email who ferociously defended the salesperson. The Age reported, “In an email, the retailer asked her to do Gasp a favor, stop wasting the store’s time and shop elsewhere because she was not a ‘fashion forward consumer’ who could appreciate a ‘retail superstar’ with ‘unparalleled ability’.” The salesperson also called O’Neil unrepeatable names in a leaked internal email and and warned other “rude and obnoxious clowns” to stay out.

Gasp thought that this incident was a good thing because of the press the company received, but research indicates otherwise: a horrible customer experience can trigger a negative spiral of bad customer service that perpetuates indefinitely.

Takeaway

The adage “all press is good press” doesn’t apply to customer service — going viral for terrible service isn’t worth the momentary traffic boost. When you try to justify your (or your company’s) behavior, you excuse toxic behavior and set a new baseline for bad customer service.

The Bottom Line: Always Put your Customers First

 

Unfortunately every person has a terrible customer service story to tell. Even when it’s not as dramatic or extreme, customers experience terrible service every day, and it slowly erodes a company’s reputation.

The best way to tackle bad customer service stories is to prevent them in the first place. When you create a supportive environment grounded in respect and customer appreciation, you’ll never find yourself among these negative examples.

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The Importance of Consistency in Customer Service

Pleasing Customers Increases Customer Satisfaction by 20% and Revenue by 15%

 

 

When it comes to customer service, consistency is key. One of the most important considerations for customers in choosing a particular brand is consistency in service delivery. A survey conducted by McKinsey & Company across 14 different industries concluded that pleasing customers with the expected level of quality increases customer satisfaction by 20% and it also helps the company increase revenues by more than 15%.

It is critical to understand that winning customers and building loyalty takes time, and that in order to build good customer relationships, you need to deliver consistent service if you are to retain your customer’s hard-won loyalty. This is put nicely into perspective by the fact that customers, on average, will tell less than 10 other people about good service they have received, whereas the number is closer to 20 when it comes to letting people know about a bad experience.

Why is consistency valued so highly among customers?

Maintain Quality & Reliability

Consumers expect the same kind of quality each time they make a purchase or acquire a particular service. Customers base their expectations on their previous positive experiences, so it is the company’s responsibility to deliver the same level of services or beyond to ensure customer satisfaction. Consumers must be guaranteed that the products and services being sold to them will live up to their expectation and the product description.

 

Relationship Building & Emotional Consistency

The only way to build long-term relationships with customers is to offer dependable products and service. Being treated as a valuable customer both before and after a sale is of vital importance. In fact, to ensure repeat sales and customer loyalty, it is important that interactions with customers are consistent and quality based. The greater the emotional connection between your customer and your business, the higher the customer loyalty. After all, nothing is more trustworthy than consistency.

Obviously, no enterprise is perfect, and customers understand that. However, they are more likely to forgive an occasional misstep, provided the problem is handled quickly and with care. What customers will not tolerate is any kind of rudeness, neglect or failure to deliver on promises. This is put nicely into perspective by the fact that customers, on average, will tell less than 10 other people about good service they have received, whereas the number is closer to 20 when it comes to letting people know about a bad experience.

 

Communication

No matter how many loyalty programs a company offers, it won’t be able to win loyal customers until and unless the company offers consistency in communication. Communication with the business customers’ needs to be effective, to the point, and periodic. The only way customers can be expected to invest their money, time and effort into a product or service is through free and open interactions. To be able to successfully communicate at each customer touch point, strategies need to be developed for different areas of communication. These touch points can be appropriately used to strengthen the relationship with the clients and communicate all the relevant information in a timely fashion.

Furthermore, you can conduct online surveys and invite customers to provide feedback on their experiences with your organization, in order to learn what is most important to them. Once you are aware of what the key issues are, you can fix them immediately. In addition, monitor customers on all their social streams to catch praise or dissatisfaction, both of which you can learn from.

In addition, always provide clients with a time frame for expecting your response and consider setting up automated responses to incoming client emails, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

 

 

Customer Journey

Businesses should also keep in mind that it is not just the product or service that needs consistency, but the overall customer journey, which includes pre-sale engagement, actual sale and after sales services. The combined total of all these interactions with the company make up the customer journey. Customers who have all the control in the competitive industry are very perceptive and they pay attention to every little detail, which means that the company can’t afford to compromise on any component of customer journey. Customers expect the same level of service quality during each stage of the customer journey. If a company consistently pays attention to detail and offers high quality services, it would result in long term relationships with customers.

We found that a company’s performance on journeys is 35% more predictive of customer satisfaction than performance on individual touchpoints. Since a customer journey often touches different parts of the organization, companies need to rewire themselves to create teams that are responsible for the end-to-end customer journey across functions.

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Customer Service Tips From a 14 Year Old

teen interview

 

My son, who is 14, just had his first job interview at the local pool. It’s a summer job that entails cleaning locker rooms, changing out the garbage, and other menial tasks. He was thrilled to get an interview, and even more thrilled when they hired him on the spot.

Later that night we were talking about the interview – did he make good eye contact, shake the interviewer’s hand, speak slowly and clearly, and give thoughtful answers? As he shared some of the questions and his responses, I was not surprised that he was hired on the spot.

The one that stood out to me the most was his answer to the question, “If hired, why do you think you have a responsibility to keep the locker rooms and pool grounds clean?” Before he shared his answer, I tried to guess what a 14 year old might say. Typical responses may be, “Because that’s what I will be hired to do” or “because I’m a responsible person and will do what is expected of me” or something along those lines.

My son’s response was interesting, and one that employees who provide customer service should follow. He simply explained that he would put himself in the pool guests’ shoes – what would he like to see when visiting the pool? He’d like a clean, well maintained place to enjoy the day. If that’s what guests would like, then he would need to provide that as a support staff member.

He makes a good point – as an employee who provides a service or interacts with customers, it’s wise to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How would they like to be treated? Will their experience be different if you smile and make a bit of pleasant conversation as they are making a purchase? If someone couldn’t answer a question for you, which would you prefer – a curt, “I’m not sure, sorry I can’t help” or “I’m not quite sure, but let me find you someone that can help?”

Sometimes we don’t think of the customer and what they are experiencing through their interactions with us. Other times we may think our work is menial and doesn’t make a difference in the big picture of the company. But, as my son realizes, it does – a clean locker room, in his opinion, can affect a guest’s experience, and as a new employee, he will work to make sure it is as he would like to see it.

A very simple lesson, but a great way for staff to think as they go about their workday.

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