The ineptness of some companies is shocking to me. I’ve written several times about the value of social media for companies both large and small. It’s clearly a key way for customers to listen to you and find you, as well as send feedback to you when they have it. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll learn a lot from what they say. But what happens when you’re not really paying attention?
To put it bluntly, it’s cringeworthy. The very idea that a company could blunder so horribly in its ability (or lack-thereof) to listen to and communicate with its customers is nothing less than appalling. But on top of it, they’ve been doing it so very publicly as of late. That’s simply reprehensible.
Customer service is about exactly that. Serving the customer. It isn’t about finding an automated solution to dealing with the whining and complaining of ungrateful people who should feel so lucky as that you’re willing to do business with them. These people, who kindly open their wallets for your company’s products and services, are not irritations or enemies. They are the lifeblood of your company. Without them, your company does not exist. The endless importance of this idea can not be expressed. It is everything.
It seems, though, that these failures go beyond social media. More and more companies have been publicly debasing their customers and employees, or have at least been exposed publicly. The beauty of social media is also its curse: your failures will be exposed as quickly as your successes, if not more so.
So, what do you do?
It starts with creating a culture that not only remembers the value of the customer, but encourages and celebrates it. What your company does for the customer is more important that what services it offers. Remain humble when given credit, and always refocus on what really matters. Remember, the money is awesome, and well deserved if you’re doing a good job. However, the real reward is knowing that you have created intense value for the benefit of your customers.
Last personal story. I recently had a customer (whose testimonial is coming soon) let me know that I had done a phenomenal job. I had been hired to come in and correct a number of issues with the company’s IT systems, including network storage, network hardware, and cleaning the workstations of viruses, malware and clutter. Over the course of 4 visits, I completed all of the tasks they had given me. She then proceeded to explain that her previous computer person, whom the company had hired continuously for 4 years, wasn’t able to do in that entire length of time what I had gotten done in those 4 visits. She asked for any place that she could write a testimonial and recommendation for me as to the quality of my service.
There’s more to it, though.
During every computer clean, her previous person would take possession of the computers for a minimum of a week, return to his shop, and proceed to reformat each machine. He would charge for the visit, the reformat, and a new Windows license every time (for those of you who don’t know, your Windows license is re-useable on the same machine with the same version of Windows). This possession would not only cost her lost productivity while the machine was gone, but she would also have to reinstall all of the software on the computer. Further, often times a backup of the files on the machine were not performed by the tech, meaning that important company documents were lost. The company deals with medical information, so there was also a file security risk while the machine was at his shop. None of the above was necessary, and most of it caused her a financial loss. Prior to hiring me, she had put in a call to him to come fix a network issue. That was a month ago. He still hasn’t responded.
I was able to complete the job without any of the aforementioned problems. I was just doing what I know to be right and doing it the right way, and it made a lifelong customer out of her.
I don’t tell you this to pat myself on the back. I tell you this because this particular technician thought of himself above the customer. He never stopped to think of how to better create value for the client, but instead sought – through primarily unethical means – to boost his profit. This sort of treatment is wrong and, while it may provide short-term-gains, will put a company out of business in the long term.
EasyJet, a British budget airline, shows us yet again how to blunder with the customer. Try to learn from these failures. They’ll help you survive longer and begin to grow and thrive.
Don’t forget: your customer is everything.
Image adapted from original by Dagny Mol