There’s a company I do business with – for now anyway – that has a very expensive product. It’s an excellent product and it’s a case where the importance of high quality definitely beats low price. I’m happy to pay it.
The only challenge I have with them is that they are very slow to process and ship the product. Several times this has messed me up, even when I ordered well in advance just to ensure that didn’t happen. But, it did anyway.
They are very nice people; I think it’s just something within their system. I suspect (but absolutely do not know this for certain) that they probably only ship on certain days in order to save money or time. In other words, they do what they perceive is in their best interest; not mine.
Now, if this is the case, I wouldn’t even mind and could work around it if they clued me in and let me know. Regardless of whatever their issue with shipping and timeliness are, they have made their problem, my (the customer’s) problem.
For now, because they have the best product and I have not been able to find a replacement that matches their quality, I’m still doing business with them. Once I find it, I’m switching. No, not because of price, but because they have consistently disappointed me with their service and lack of communication.
If this is happening with me, can we assume it is happening with many of their other customers? Most likely.
So, here’s the point: If enough other customers are looking to switch – and eventually do – the company will either go out of business or at least see significantly decreased market-share.
The question is, “will they know why?” Will they know that it’s because they did not deliver in a way appropriate to keeping their customers satisfied?
Or, will they complain how you just can’t sell a premium-priced product in “this economy?”
Somehow, I suspect it’s the latter…and that’s a shame.
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This has me all riled up, as I think of the times I was underwhelmed with the service I received! I am all about customer service, both as a business owner and as a customer. I notice and appreciate what some might consider the little things, which to me are everything! I try, as much as possible, to only do biz with those who offer exceptional customer service. I don’t care whether it’s a gas station, a restaurant, a post office or an attorney; the one who gets my business is the one who shows me, in some little way, that they truly appreciate me. I don’t mind paying more for the product or service, if I can trust the service will be consistently great. I also let the company know when I am impressed (either good or bad) with their service. Interesting that the ones who hear the negative feedback (always given in a nice, want to help you way) often offer excuses mixed in with apology. YUK
WHOA Tracey! Astonishing is RIGHT!
Yes, YES! A local florist is 15 miles from where I needed to send flowers for a funeral. Yes, there is a florist in the town where the funeral was being held, but I don’t know them, I know the other guys. When I called one of the owners answered. Granted, I don’t know him personally, I know his partner, but I told him who I was. When I said the funeral was in the other town, he said “We don’t deliver there”. I was astonished, especially since my parent’s were florists and they delivered much farther away than 15 miles! When I pressed, he says “Well, we do, but we’ll have to charge you”.
#FAIL. Don’t make a decision for your customer!!! They ended up charging me $12.50 (discounted from $15 because of my association with BNI). I ordered a $100 bouquet, knew their work was stunning, called them specifically because I know, like and trust them. I had NO issues paying for delivery to get what I wanted.
I know he was trying to be “nice” and save me money. Again, don’t make a decision for your customer!!! I get that people are beating you down on price, but again, put it out there. When someone like me comes along, willing to pay fair value for great service, take it!
It’s not the economy, it’s what we do about it that matters!
Another home run, Bob.
How much better would most companies be doing if they just took a little time to really see things from the customer’s side of the table before, during, and after the “close” has taken place. I’m careful not to say “after the sale” because, as I know you’d agree, receipt of payment is not the end of the sale.
And considering the company you’re talking about is a premium priced provider they *ought to* have suitable economics to justify a phone call to each customer to determine satisfaction or perceived problems/annoyances. Or heck, to ship the darn thing out quicker.
I mean, what kind of blog post would you be writing today if, instead, that company had made the pricing considerations necessary to *pleasantly surprise you* with a free upgrade to some level of express shipping just because you’re a valued client?
Anyhoo – before this turns into a rant – thanks again for a stimulating post, Bob. I’ll be tweeting/sharing this one on my Facebook page.
Beth, that was spectacular teaching. Thank you, my friend!!
Hi Marc, thank you, my friend. And I saw your “share” on Facebook. Thank you. I love the points you made. And, I really don’t even know if the shipping issue (what I mentioned as a possibility in the post) is their actual issue. We’ve never been able to get this determined to our satisfaction. However, whatever the real challenge is, I totally agree with what you said – and this goes for so many companies – that they need to see it from the customer’s point of you. And…I also love what you said about the phone call or other methods to seek feedback of satisfaction/annoyances. My guess is that their problem is somehow systemic in nature and that they have no clue about it.
I’ve been known to complain, to some email address that takes me time to find on a website, on more than one occasion — in vain of course. I have found that a letter of complaint, at least allows me to know that there was possibility that someone really has taken my note into account.
One big company recently decided to stop putting brochures in the boxes they ship client orders. Yes, the brochures are heavy (they cost me 3 bucks to mail). The company never asked Representativetive for suggestions on how to save paper, nor have they taken me up on some of the various suggestions I made to them. Never asked it’s clients if they wanted to opt out of getting the brochure if they wanted. Nada. I complained to the Office of the President and get a note back about the paper savings its brining the company. So, I sent out 200 emails to my customers with the email address of the Office of their President. I presume that other people complained, too. All our online orders were down. Last week, 4 months after this new policy started, they reinstated the “put brochures in the box” process again.
Most recently I complained about the gloves that come with hair color. The gloves, of one company, used to be very well designed and they protected my hands. When I took them off, to wait 25 minutes for the product to work, the gloves didn’t tear. They were great to put back on and finish the job. But two months ago, the gloves changed. I couldn’t take them off w/o ripping them. And getting them back on was a chore. I complained — and got a note back about it being part of the ‘greening’ of the company. HUH I thought? This is hair dye I’m getting on my hands (well I was getting on my hands, till I changed brands). I did get a survey from the company that didn’t give me an area to really give them the feedback they were looking for. WHA?
It’s a sad state of affairs when someone returning a phone call or picking up their phone gets a “I can’t believe you’re calling me” or “you’re really picking up your own phone.”
People service is imperative. Unfortunately companies forget that w/o buyers, they won’t have a job or company to manage common sence has gone up the fireplace, in many companies, for sure. I think that’s one of the many reason why the Occupy Wall Street movement is growing. People have had it with the way they’re mis-treated by many bigger companies.
Go small businesses for treating “the people” right.
Maria, thank you for your note. Without knowing the full story, I cannot comment on the individual situations you mentioned. In a free-enterprise based society (from which we have unfortunately very much strayed but at least the essence is still there) companies are rewarded for doing good and punished for doing bad.
Regarding your thoughts about the Occupy Wall Street movement, I have not discussed that much publicly because – as usual – the argument itself is based on false premises, which makes it very frustrating for me. First, there needs to be an understanding between Capitalism/Free Markets and the Corporatism that has infested our society. The only corporations that should be protested are those who have bought government influence through their lobbyists. Of course, the politicians who allow their influence to be bought by corporations should also be protested and kicked out of office, as well. But, I’ll bet that most of these protesters believe in big, obtrusive government; the very same government that allows itself to be bought and paid for by the very corporations they are protesting.
Of course, the protesters can simply stop buying all those things that are sold by the corporations. But, then they won’t be able to record their protests with their smart phones or other cameras, they won’t have any clothes to wear while they protest, they won’t be able to drink a soft drink or bottled water while they protest, they won’t be able to…….
Agree with you totally, Ms. Linda(r)! 🙂
Hello Tremendous Bob! With six pets, and three of them seniors, I opted to get my med via 1-800-PETMEDS becuase they were cheaper than my veterinarian. PETMEDS called the vet to verify my pets’ medical records and the vet promptly called me and said they would charge an $8.95 fee per perscription to validate. I immediatly told them to pack up my records, which they then charged me $1 a page to copy, and found another vet that does not tack on these fees. Really astonishing. They lost a customer that paid thousands of dollars a year in pet related fees over $8.95. The copy charge which totaled $40 just confirmed that I was making the right switch:-)
If the company you’re working with has never bothered to ask their customers (especially long-time, repeat customers) about how they are doing and if they’re meeting or exceeding your expectations, than I think you are absolutely right: a competitor will come along and to it better. They will go out of business and scratch their heads about what happened.
I’m a web analyist and work with small and large (as in global) companies and I’m fascinated to note how larger companies will often scoff at my recommendation that they include a customer survey/feedback form on their site upon exit without purchase and at the end of a transaction. I think the problem is this: if you’re buying they assume that you are happy. And as you know, Bob, they are assuming wrong.
Tracey, that one can only be classified amongst the great “anti-wow” stories. Amazing. Unfortunately, not in a good way. I’d say that $40 copy charge was well-spent on your part. (anti)WOW!
Kim, great, great, great point!!
Bob, great post as always my good brother!
Tracey, you shared a great example of a company not being able to see the forest for the trees (sadly) in your comment.
I’m reminded of past experiences in dealing with my local cable provider (who I’ll not mention in the event that I end up speaking to their company — and, well that might just be awkward. haha).
In the town I live there really isn’t much in the way of competition, at least for high speed internet. For many years, they were pretty much the only option, as like most any time where there’s little competition (hint, we need to deman of our elected officials that they let the free market work, but that’s another thought…lol) price is generally higher, and perhaps most disheartening is that the customer service one gets is non-existent.
In all honesty while I would like to think I’d give great customer service, just because, if I were in the same boat as these companies are (granted near monopoly status, where no, or near no competition existed I might very well be tempted to treat my customers the same way. As though they have no choice but to put up with the lack of service.
Interestingly, recently another service provider has moved into our town and yet the original company is still slow to adjust. They haven’t brought their prices down, and so their new competitor is peeling off their customers that way — and because they don’t have their customer service down — they can’t realistically say, they give more “value” to justify paying more then what the other company delivers. Being a bit of a “customer service geek” myself, I’ve been taking note of how my provider interacts with me when I call for questions, etc. I see them, albeit slowly, coming around to a new way of thinking (a long way to go, but hey progress is progress ;-)). Realizing, all though at what appears to be a slow crawl sometimes 😉 that they are beginning to understand that I have a choice — as do they — to either treat me as I want to be treated, or that I can now choose another service.
Hopefully you everyone was able to read between the ramblings and the point I was trying to make still made sense 🙂
Josh, you’re right. Some big companies may not have to worry or care about customer service in the short run. And they may even get away with it for years and years. It’s sad, but it is out there as you demonstrate with your cable company example. No company, no entity, should ever think they are invincible, though. And just think what it must be like to work for a company that doesn’t care about doing great work and serving customers? I bet that company also does a poor job of caring about their employees.
Josh, not rambling at all, my brother. That made GREAT sense all the way through. A case where being the sole provider made them soft and lazy and now that they have competition they are not prepared to make the necessary changes (most of which they wouldn’t need to make had they been customer-focused in the first place). I hope they have you work with them on an ongoing basis so that you can get them on track!
Kim, great points!
Oh so true Bob…I spent 25+ years in the Hospitality Industry. One would think that they would have a Hospitable Attitude? Many years ago they did but somewhere along the way it just became a concern about what we used to call “Heads In Beds”. Anytime a guest asked for something it was …”We can’t do that!” or “We don’t do that!” Over time many hotels followed suit and only a few truly “Accomodating” hotels are left…much like the Airlines. I love the Hotel Industry (it was my true passion) and always enjoyed making people happy but found that my attitude and companies were just too diverse so I left the Industry altogether. Traveling to me was always such a wonderful adventure and perferred the “Yes We Can” approach. One chain even used that as their Marketing Slogan…but unfortunately didn’t believe it! This was such a Great Lesson for me to NEVER forget that “Yes I Can!” when dealing with others…
Very powerful, Barbara!
They WILL blame the economy. And, they’ll be right. The “economy” would be much stronger without businesses pretending to be IN business.
It’s not about the product. It’s about the customer. How good to you think the “economy” would be if all businesses remembered that?
As always, Brother Sean, you sum it up perfectly. It’s not about the product. It’s about the customer!
Excellent article Bob. I expect they will blame the economy because it’s the easy thing to blame today. The reality is, they do NOT LISTEN to their customers like yourself, so they can solve any problems or issued concerning their product. What a shame as you said. Love this because it reminds me to listen carefully to my clients and be certain to meet their needs.
Very nicely said. And yet you do bring up an all too exhausted excuse in today’s world – It’s the point the finger and blame everybody else so I don’t have to do my job to delight my customer. To see more examples, just turn on the evening news. The politicians are doing it. The protestors are doing it. The law enforcement folks and teachers are doing it.
Seems we have entered into an age of playing the ultimate blame game instead of asking the question, How May I Be of MOST SERVICE today? Or, What difference can I make today? Not to mention that folks have stopped being creative in finding solutions.
There is a local business in our community that get’s it. When I call them, their receptionists are trained with this response. “Thank you for calling Black Hills Heating, my name is Sharon, how may if delight you today?” And their service only gets better from there!! I wish everyone had that same spirit of delighting their customer. In today’s marketplace, it’s an honor to have customers, let’s treat them that way.
Thank you, Mari. And you make an excellent point. It’s certainly a good reminder for *all* of us to take stock of how we are doing in that area, as well.
Thanks Bob for a timely post. Listening is the most challenging and important part of leadership. Internal or external costumers always give the best clues for improvement if listened to. Problem is many times we don’t want to admit there is anything wrong. Listening allows for learning and improvement before it’s too late. Always easier to blame something (like “the economy”) than to look in the mirror and find out what’s wring with me.
Thanks again for th thought-provoking post
Hi Dr. Ada, yes indeed…the clues are usually there, aren’t they? And, we must listen to them. Great thoughts!
Very interesting post! I without a doubt know that the economy will be the blame rather than an analytical process of their business model. One thing that ruins any business is high-mindedness. Your post reminds me of an electronics store (I won’t mention the name) that built a strong presence on the backs of professional sales people only to abandon them in favor for college students, minimum wage, and part time schedules (no benefits!). It is of no small consequence that this company “passed away” like the wind that blows.
As a seasoned salesperson, I learned that the customer is ALWAYS king (even when they are wrong at times) and it is always your best practice to stay tuned to their needs instead of feeling like the only game in town that matters!
Thank you, Bob, and everyone who has made comments. Excellent! And, yes, the company will blame the economy, even though, there are companies thriving in this economy.
Years ago, I attended a seminar given by the President of the American Medical Association. He made a statement that will forever be true (in any kind of business, just switch the dynamics around to make it fit). “Go back and tell your doctors that you were told that it’s the people who answer the phones who will determine whether their bills get paid or not.” He wasn’t talking about whether the person was a good bill collector, he was talking about whether the person was a good people person. Someone who could soothe, smooth and listen and had the authority to do something other than “talk” when the situation called for it.
Now a days, by the time I talk to a real person, especially if I’m having a problem, I’m going to be a little harder to soothe than I was fifteen to thirty minutes (or longer) ago.
And what’s sad, is there’s a lot less people willing to soothe me any ol’ way.
BUT when I have the opportunity to talk with someone who is nice, just plain ol’ nice, I sometimes forget that I even had a problem. 🙂
Bob, this is a subject near and dear to me as I have developed a worldwide customer satisfaction program that was used by a company and its dealers selling products and service that sold for a premium in the market. Based on your blog, the company is missing an easy feedback link that would allow you to provide the necessary input to keep them delivering superior products AND service and therefore having high customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction must be made a priority throughout a company in order for it to be successfully achieved. It takes a program in place with the proper training, mechanisms and measurements that will give the feedback necessary to improve or maintain high levels of customer satisfaction. It really doesn’t take a great deal of money to accomplish even for the small biz. Obviously the larger the organization and the more products; the more sophisticated the process. I am a firm believer in seeking out the owner or manager to give my feedback on how they are doing. I make it a point to let them know when they have exceeded my expectations as well as when a problem occurs.Ii have found most managers are very receptive to hearing this kind of feedback. Unfortunately, the masses do not do this and it is the companies’ responsibility to put a program in place to seek this input from their customers. Not sure if you have provided your dissatisfaction to the appropriate parties… but it just might be worth a try! We can only hope that more companies will make their customers’ a priority and obtain the necessary feedback from them to keep them happy and coming back again and again.
Arnold: It’s true, isn’t it? They might not always be right (despite the famous saying) but they’re always kind! Thank you!
Tammy: I certainly agree with you. And, I really enjoyed hearing about Black Hills Heating and Sharon. Good for them!
Pamela: Great points you make and terrific teaching, as always!
Molly: Thank you for your thoughts!
Bob: By coincidence, my latest blog post discussed the very same thing, asking my readers if they’re blaming the economy for their own financial problems instead of expending the same energy it takes to complain and ACTUALLY find a solution.
I live in Michigan and it just seems commonplace for many people to engage in the “blame game” instead of analyzing the skills they do have that could be used to embark on an alternate career path. Unfortunate that you can’t help those who won’t help themselves.
Wonderful weekend to you Bob!!