1) Internal organizational processes should be mostly invisible to the customer (oh sorry, we received your order, but forgot to pass it onto the shipping department doesn’t cut it)
2) Customer service agents should be focused on helping customers solve problems, give advice, and all around facilitate whatever the customer is trying to achieve (within reason – a ranting offensive customer is a different story). Poorly paid, poorly trained, uncaring, overworked employees will make this impossible to achieve.
3) The customer should ultimately have at the very least a neutral experience, or if the organization is successful, a positive one interacting with the organization. These positive interactions create lifelong customers, building loyalty. The value of this cannot be overstated.
Customers may forget the neutral experience or even become repeat customers if they are happy with the service. However, if they become dissatisfied with the experience, they may dissuade friends and family from frequenting the store (negative word of mouth), or in the worst case, create sites such as I Hate Best Buy or Radioshack Sucks. The value of a neutral visit is marginal, the value created through a satisfied customer invaluable, and the damage caused by poor customer service, devastating. Websites cited above are prime examples of customer service gone wrong (where the company for one reason or another did not have a fluid, positive interaction with its customers by putting customers first). The lost sales and potential damage caused by these negative experiences is difficult to quantify – how many found the Radioshack Sucks site searching Google, and decided against shopping at that particular chain? If the stories propagated by word of mouth, the amount lost becomes even more difficult to quantify, over potential customer lifetime sales.
I write this post mostly because of a bad experience with a certain online store, whose name will go unmentioned. I’m sure they’re capable of great customer service, but with their seemingly overworked and likely underpaid employees, this becomes infeasible. As a customer, my focus is seamlessly placing an order (I’m the five minute order type), getting in, and getting out. Yes, I am the very bane of commission earning salespeople, darting to the cash, before commission can be tagged or additional items added to my order (I’m thinking of Sports Experts, in particular)
Waiting two weeks for a product to ship, because of an internal oversight is a no go. I probably won’t order from the site again. The difference between quality customer service (with a focus on the consumer), and an organization which is only peripherally interested in customer service (in that they need customers to generate sales) is huge. Focus on your customers, give them what they need (yes, even if it involves paying your employees equitably or actually training them) – and you may just create repeat customers. It really makes all the difference in the world.
Ultimately, I’m not going to send the company in question a nasty e-mail. It’s pointless. I’ll speak with my painfully earned dollars, and shop elsewhere in the future.
Back to our regularly scheduled tech commentary with my next post,