Based on experiences I’ve had over the past 3 weeks starting yet another venture, I think a review of the definition of “customer service” is needed.
A vendor ships $5,000 worth of goods to me. This vendor gives the shipping company the incorrect zip code and the order ends up somewhere else. I contact the vendor and tell them my order is going in the wrong direction—I know this from online tracking. They tell me to wait and it will work out. The shipping company, in the shuffle, loses part of the order.
Here’s what I eventually get: Some beat up boxes that have toured the country. A bill from the vendor for the full order in spite of the lost item (which was their fault in the first place). An email from the shipping company recommending I initiate a “search” for the missing items. An email from the vendor asking me to allow more time for them to process a claim.
For some reason, the only one with a problem here is me, the customer. The vendor had no trouble putting $5,000 on my credit card but they seem to have a huge problem getting the order to me. The first order they sent me had so many defective items I had to return 75% of the order. Shame on me for continuing to deal with this vendor. I probably will not order from them again after I get this mess worked out. If they can’t fill this order by Friday, I will return everything and terminate the relationship. It’s been three weeks and I’m still trying to get my first order filled. Enough is enough.
If a relationship starts out this way it generally will not improve unless the vendor is willing to accept responsibility and ACT accordingly. This vendor won’t. They THINK they are, but they aren’t. They are blind to the customer’s point of view. Blindness will kill this company within a few years. They’ll cut costs and think they’re going in the right direction—as sales dry up. Sales first, costs second. You won’t grow by shrinking.
Okay, what IS customer service? “Customer service is solving the customer’s problem with as little of the customer’s time and involvement as possible.”
Customer service isn’t about being nice. It’s about getting the job done for the customer without making him share in the pain.
This is an easy concept.
Shameless Promotion: Customer service matters. Customer service matters. Customer service matters. It’s worth the investment to improve your customer’s experience with your company.
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog