Wednesday, January 15, 2020

In the Name of Customer Service


Activity does not equal achievement.  It is one of my favorite sayings.  Having the activity of customer service does not equal achieving customer satisfaction.  As consumers, we are inundated with surveys, calls, letters, etc.  All of these are for metric tracking; however, it is serving as a deterrent to business.  Here are two stories, one good and one awful as examples.
I was gifted a puzzle box from a friend.  I love puzzles and figuring things out and this puzzle box from Man Crates was very cool.  It starts with a box with a master lock on it and a clue.  The rest you figure out.  The box that I had was damaged.  I figured out the clue and a piece that was supposed to move out was glued shut.  I e-mailed customer service asking for assistance.  They replied that they would send me another box and apologized.  They arranged for shipping of my box back so they could inspect what happened and shipped me a new one.  It was easy and pleasant.  Great job to Man Crates and consider me a satisfied customer.

Last night, my family ordered from GrubHub.  When the food was delivered, the meal was incomplete, and someone did not get their food.  No worries.  It happens.  I received a text message from the service asking me about the order.  It was an automated text.  Was the food good?  Was the order right?  How would I rate the experience?  Do I have any comments?  I answered the questions.  We had ordered the food at 5:30. It arrived by 6:45.  The text was received by 7:15.  At almost 9, my cell phone rang.  I usually do not answer when I am spending time with the family.  I declined the call.  The phone rang again immediately, I declined the call.  It rang again, I declined.  On the fourth ring, I am now upset.  I answer to see who it was since it was an apparent emergency.  It was a customer service person from GrubHub.  I asked what he wanted, and he was asking me if I was satisfied with my order.  I said I already replied to the text and he said that he didn’t text me.  I asked why he called so many times in a row and didn’t just leave a message.  He dodged the question.  I asked if he doesn’t know about the text service, why is he calling?  He said again that he wanted to know if I was satisfied with the order.  Again, I told him I have already given feedback to GrubHub about my order, so I am confused by the call.  I told him the order was incomplete.  He defended his position and asked what did I mean?  I said one of the orders did not arrive.  He said that he could tell the food had been delivered.  I said that yes, the food had been delivered, but one of the items that we selected and paid for was not in the bag.  He asked me what I did about it.  I said we didn’t make a stink about it or complain.  He got rude and short with me.  I finally had to say look, we accepted that the food was not in there and we were going to let it go.  However, after a text conversation, you calling me 4 times, and now not the slightest bit interested in understanding what the issue is, we will just never use the service again.

As companies look through the metrics and evaluate, they had a text system and a customer service representative call.  They provided activity towards customer satisfaction.  This is where companies show the number of attempts.  However, they did not achieve customer satisfaction.  In fact, the achieved the opposite result.  They can write us off and shrug, but you never know who is on the other line.  Human nature shows that people will speak more about negative experiences than positive ones.  In fact, it takes roughly 40 positive experiences or reviews to undo the damage of one negative one.  I understand the investment in customer service, but creating activity just creates more opportunities to fail if the intent is activity, not achievement.

This reminds me of a client.  We had installed a software platform and there was a connector that was needed from a third party.  To make a long story short, the third party discontinued the connector which was the primary reason this client had bought the software platform.  I went to the manufacturer of the software platform and asked them to resolve the issue and they refused.  I found another company that could do the connector and it was going to cost $10,000 to create.  I went back to the manufacturer of the software platform and they said they were not interested in the investment.  I called the head of that department and explained that there were over 500 people using the platform.  That is 500 opportunities to create a negative or positive impression about how this company stands behind their product.  It is also 500 opportunities of those people going to other companies and having the opportunity to spread the negative or positive impression.  They agreed to fund the creation of the connector.  Fast forward almost a year, there were two new companies that bought the platform because of the connector and a third company that bought it because one of the 500 had left and was now in charge of a new organization.  It is not always the case that this works out, but what if it did?  We know the answer of what if it didn’t, it is a cost of $10,000.  For that investment, they brought in almost $500,000 of new revenue.

All of this to say, it is not about the quantity or activity of customer service.  It is about the achievement and listening to your customers.

No Day but Today,

Rick