Wow! Customer Service: How to lose or win a client for life in 3 easy steps

Customer service,customer retention,customer complaintsToday I want to tell you a couple of stories about things that have happened to me or members of my family in the last few weeks: one bad and one good. They illustrate examples of Wow! customer service, in both senses of the word.

I want to use these stories to illustrate how when things go wrong in business, it is how we react that defines the abiding memory that we have as customers.

First, a story about bed buying and delivery. This story involves the mother of my fiancee, let’s call her Mary, who needed to buy a new bed and have it delivered. Having bought and paid for the bed, she arranged for it to be delivered on a certain date within a certain time window. She also made arrangements for time off work and waited patiently on that day for the delivery to arrive.

This is where things started to go wrong. First, the bed company called and moved the delivery time from the agreed morning slot to a slot in the afternoon. Then, they called again saying that they would need to reschedule the delivery date as one of the delivery men had realised that the bed was missing a part and that they couldn’t fully assemble it without the part. This was when Mary started to get angry and she called the customer service desk to be treated as if she had been the one that was at fault and that she may face additional charges. Faced with no other option she threatened to refuse delivery of the bed. Only then did the customer service representative decide that the bed should be delivered and that one of the delivery guys was to hot foot it over to the depot (only 3-4 miles away) to pick up the missing part and return to Mary’s house so they could finalise the assembly of the bed..

This astonished me and left me wondering how this company stays in business if it treats its customers this way.

My second story involves a book that I bought as an advanced purchase on the internet. As it came into stock, I received a message that it had been dispatched and that it would take 4-5 days to arrive. When a week passed and it hadn’t showed up, I contacted the bookseller and told them of the situation. The first thing they said to me was ‘Don’t worry. We take full responsibility for this.’ Nice, I felt at ease. Then they explained that there had been a few problems with the postal service lately and asked if I could wait for another few days to see if it showed up. I agreed and waited. The book still didn’t show up after the agreed time so I contacted them again and explained the situation. They said: ‘Don’t worry. We take full responsibility for this’ and then gave me three options:

  1. A full refund
  2. A credit on my account with them to the amount I had spent; or
  3. A new book and they would pay the post and packaging.

I chose option 3 as I wanted the book anyway. It arrived a couple of days later.

This level of service made me tell a large number of my friends about how I had been treated and how they should use this bookseller.

I think the difference in the price of each item is irrelevant in these stories as the most important thing is how each company responded when one of their customers who had bought an item and paid for it to be delivered. In each case, the business has lost or won a customer for life based on how they responded to what went wrong.

The lessons for business and how we respond when things go wrong before a transaction is completed from these two stories are, I think, three-fold:

  1. It’s the businesses mistake not theirs
  2. Never forget your promise; and
  3. It’s not over til its over

What do you think?

Do you have any amazing or awful customer service stories that you would like to share?

Thanks to thekeithhall for the WOW image

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