I had a very bad customer service experience recently. It all started when I was preparing to mail out invitations to my son’s 2nd birthday party and needed some return address labels. I’d been receiving promotional emails from an online printing company for a while, but hadn’t ordered anything from them. I saw they were having a sale and decided to give them a try.
Customizing and placing my order went smoothly and only took a few minutes to complete. My order was estimated to arrive in 10-14 business days — a little long for my Amazon Prime member taste, but would still get the labels to me just in time to send out my invitations.
About a week and a half later my order arrived… or so I thought. The envelope I received contained exactly 4 address labels — a far cry from the 90 labels I ordered. I immediately emailed the company’s customer service department about the error. My email went something like this:
Dear Customer Service,
I ordered 90 of your address labels, but I just received my order and it only contains 4 labels. Can you help?
This was the response I received:
Thank you for contacting us. We apologize for the mistake with your order. We recently had some trouble with our printing vendor and people haven’t been receiving their complete orders. We will send out the rest of your order right away. You should receive it in 10-14 business days.
There is so much wrong with this response, but here are the 4 main ways in which this company failed:
- Passing the buck. Instead of taking responsibility for their mistake, the company made a lame attempt to put the blame on a vendor. Even if something out of your control causes an issue for your customers, it’s still your company’s responsibility. Customers don’t care what goes on behind the scenes. When you promise a product or service, you are expected to deliver it; if you can’t, you must take full responsibility.
- Not expediting a resolution. After waiting over a week for my order to be delivered initially, this company expected me to wait another 10-14 days for my items to be sent. That is not only inconvenient, it is unacceptable. If your company makes an error that delays delivering a product or service to a customer, it needs to be fixed as soon as possible. In this case, they should’ve offered to overnight or 2-day ship my corrected order — at the very least.
- Waiting for the customer to alert you of a problem. You will notice in my example this company said they had been “having problems with their vendor and people weren’t getting their complete orders.” They already knew there was a problem, yet rather than be proactive, their strategy was to wait until a customer contacted them about an order mistake. Instead of taking a passive approach, take the initiative to get ahead of customer service issues. Your customers are more likely to be understanding and will appreciate that you’re looking out for their satisfaction.
- Not taking extra special care of first-time customers. When a customer makes their first purchase with you, they are testing you out — just as I was with the printing retailer. When you have a bad experience right out of the gate, you can almost guarantee you’ve lost that customer for good. Only an “above and beyond” customer service experience gives you a fighting chance of getting them to return.
It’s the age of the customer — start acting like it
If your customer service teams are committing any of these “sins,” it may be time to make the shift to a more customer-centric culture. Like Micah Solomon said in Forbes, don’t wait for Undercover Boss to call before you make a change. Make a goal now to start seeing things the way your customers see them.
According to Forrester Research, in today’s age of the customer, “executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.” Customer service today should be pain-free, proactive, and deeply personalized. It’s essential to meet your customers across all channels (e.g., social media, mobile, etc.) and let them decide how they want to engage with your brand. Embracing new customer service technologies and processes can help you transition to a customer-centric culture and provide a better Customer Experience. To learn more, check out our ebook, Creating an Exceptional Customer Experience.