When Will It Come?

Brown Paper Packages

Seth Godin pointed out today that using a date certain can be very powerful.  Promise something by next Thursday at 10 AM, rather than sometime next week.  This struck me because about two weeks ago I ordered a new backup drive.  Last time I ordered from the same company, my package arrived in two days (without express shipping). This time, I’ve waited two weeks. No exact date given, no updates either.

The excellent service I got the first time led me to expect the same this time.

Imagine if I’d gotten it (I’d be singing their praises).  Instead, I’m wondering where the heck my hard drive is.

Maybe I should start a pool – when will Jodi get her drive?  What’s your best guess?

Does Your Voice Mail System Send Callers to the Twilight Zone?

twilight zone imageMy dad wanted to buy some energy-saving light bulbs. He found a company online that sold light bulbs which were both energy-saving and bright. It was about 4:30 PM and he called the company because he had some questions about the bulbs.

He wanted information, but landed in… The Twilight Zone.

The system had no direct to operator option. The only choice was to spell out the name of the person you wanted to reach. Since he knew nobody there, he started spelling out common names, “Joe, Bob, Steve, until he finally got a name that matched. Of course, he had no idea if this was the CEO or the bookkeeper, but he left a message.

Why make it so hard for people to find you? Sure an option to spell out a name is helpful, but make sure you add “Press 1 for Accounting” or “Press 2 for Sales.”

Make it easy for customers to reach you, and buy your products, and you’re likely to get more sales. That light bulb company just lost one.

Photo: is0b3lpalm3rs0n

Are You Making Sales the Right Way?

salesman imageSeth reports today that Anbesol conned him into thinking that it would ease the pain when his tooth fell out. His dentist said it actually makes the pain worse! They cheated to make a sale.

A friend of mine just told me that when she tried to scan something with her multi-purpose fax/printer/scanner, she found that HP doesn’t support scanning on the latest Mac OS. They’re cheating to try to get her to shell out hundreds of dollars for a new machine (when the old one works perfectly).

Cheating may get you a quick sale, but it will annoy your customers, who will spread the word (as Seth, my friend, and I just did) that you’re more interested in a quick profit than a long-term happy customer.

It’s an old rule that one dissatisfied customer will tell 10 people about their experience. Instead of cheating, why not provide support or products so remarkable that your customers will be eager to talk about them (and encourage their friends to use them)?

Photo:pete simon

A Customer Service Lesson from the Building Super

I’m sitting home waiting for the super.  If you look at the picture on the right you’ll see why.

Unlike the last super, this one is readily accessible.  He answers the phone at all hours (even last night at 8 when this started as several small leaks).  He arrives on time, and he fixes whatever is broken.

The last super never answered the phone. I always got a machine, and it took hours to get a reply.  Sometimes it took days.  I’m not directly paying the bill, but when there’s a leak, or the toilet won’t stop running, it’s good to know that someone cares about customer service.

Take a few minutes to think about  your company’s service.  Call in from home or your cell.  Pretend to be a customer.  See how you’re treated.  Do you have to wait on hold for a long time?  Are your questions answered?  Are the answers helpful?  What happens when you email a question or a problem?  Does someone answer promptly?  Do you get a canned response or a personal one?

Your customers will feel better (even in a disaster) if you show up, answer the phone, and try to help.  If you solve their problems quickly and effectively, they’ll love you.

What Can A Jar of Jam Tell Us About Customer Service?

One Sunday afternoon a few months ago, I bit down on the PB &J sandwich I’d just made and it went *crunch*. I looked more closely, and found there was glass in it! (it’s OK, I wasn’t hurt).

I emailed Polaner (the jam company) and told them what happened. Less than 2 hours later (on a weekend), I got an email from Marge. She apologized profusely, told me she’d reported it to their Quality Assurance Manager at the plant, and asked for the UPC information for the product so they could track it through their system.

Why does this matter? I got an email from a real person. She apologized for the problem. She told me she’d taken steps to inform the appropriate people about it. She asked me for more details so they could track down the problem and correct it. Her actions let me know I was an important customer and that my problem mattered to the company.

This is not only good service, it’s also the best way to retain your customers. In fact, Internet Retailer just published a survey (4/3/09) which found that excellent customer service beat all other methods for keeping customers happy and loyal.

Finding glass in my jam was unpleasant, but I will buy that brand again, because they treated me well.