Service? What’s that?

I saw a post the other day at John Wagner’s blog that talked about how people don’t care about customer service anymore because they have been taught not to expect it. Though John’s view could be considered a bit cynical, for the most, he’s right. Most people do not expect superior customer service and most are happy when they happen to run into a company that provides “acceptable” customer service.

A lady named Paloma posted a comment in response to John’s post. She described her experience with Time Warner coming to install her cable TV and Internet. They gave her a 12 hour time slot (I talk about time slots here) on a weekday and she had to wait all day. No one ended up coming and the home office knew nothing. A few days later, someone did show up who probably wasn’t qualified and definitely should not have been doing the job. Apparently Time Warner Cable is pretty bad. Maria at CustomersAreAlways suggested I send my series to them in a comment she posted. Needless to say, Paloma’s (or Maria’s) experience wasn’t exactly the experience I suggested companies try to create in my series on service calls.

John shared a story about how his brother’s pool guy didn’t want to deal with him because he complained. Apparently, since the company was doing well (the pool guy said “a million and a half” a year), the pool guy didn’t have to provide good customer service for the $30 per month that John’s brother was paying. Out of all the stories I have heard about bad customer service, this has to be the most ignorant response by the company.

Why is it that the publicly traded Four Seasons Hotel Company decides to provide good customer service when they have over $220 million in annual revenue? Or Nordstrom, which has almost $8 billion in annual revenue?

Maria at CustomersAreAlways used to work at Nordstrom. She sold children’s shoes. Do you think she would have told a mother that “Nordstrom doesn’t need your $50 because we make almost $8 billion per year” if the mother said her child’s shoes didn’t fit? I seriously doubt it. Do you think a manager at the Four Seasons would have said “We don’t need your $600 per night because we make $220 million per year?” if a customer complained that his or her room wasn’t ready on time? What any great customer service company would say is “I sincerely apologize about that. Let me get to work on fixing that right away.”

Perhaps John’s brother should make his pool guy aware of this and suggest that the pool guy use his “million and a half” he made last year to hire someone to deal with customers and handle complaints when they come in.

Profitability, lots of revenue, or even a stock symbol does not entitle you to tell clients you don’t need their business because they complain. What you should do is work on fixing the problems.

John mentioned an interesting post by Leo at Client Service Insights where Leo interviewed an executive who worked at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami. The interview is quite interesting and shows that the entire company as well as the specific Miami property cares a lot about customer service.

Another commenter at John’s blog said how he now tries to buy products and services from companies/stores that provide great customer service. He says that he pays more, but it’s certainly worth it.

Most customers are willing to pay more to have great customer service, so why don’t more companies provide it? That is a good question.

2 Responses to “Service? What’s that?”

  1. Leo Bottary said:

    Oct 02, 06 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for the nod. Client/Customer service certainly has its extremes. You remind me of a great example of the good with Nordstrom and an equally solid example of the bad with the cable companies. I look forward to following your posts in the future. Thanks again, Leo

  2. Client Service Insights (CSI) said:

    Oct 03, 06 at 7:08 am

    Building Relationships…

    Years ago, I used to lead a crisis communication workshop. As part of it, I conducted a simple exercise to help adjust people’s mindset when it came to being faced with admitting a mistake publicly. …