I have a story to tell. One that has been burning a hole in my stomach for six months now. That’s right, six months. Count them with me February, March, April. May, June, and July. Oh but wait, this story hasn’t been burning a hole in my stomach, it’s been burning my eyes. I’ve been waiting six months for glasses I can see out of. (The glasses that I could see clearly out of have been at the bottom of Donnor Lake for almost a year now, but that is another story, and it has nothing marketing related ….)
Here are a few lessons for all the businesses that provide product or service to the customer. It is a rather long story so I am going to split it into two parts …
The service you provide is an everyday ordinary service that hundreds, thousands, even millions of people use. Sure you’ve got competition, but people seek out your services for a reason. Someone trusted you enough to provide a Word Of Mouth referral. The new customer comes to you full of expectations, they’ve heard great things about you. Do you owe them anything in return? Sure you do. You want to live up to their expectations and provide them with the service they’re expecting. But you fail. You drop the ball. From 10 stories up. Crushing every bit of optimism they held for you.
LESSONS IN CUSTOMER SERVICE
And the Story Begins …
It all started on Feb 14th when I went to the optometrist. After the exam I was told it would be 7 business days before my glasses would be in. Having not heard from the office by day 13, I gave them a call. They told me I my prescription would take a full week to be ready, and when I told them that the next day would be two weeks they got flustered. They called their lab and found that my lenses were on back order.
If something is on back order – FOLLOW UP with the customer to let them know of the delay. Don’t make the customer call you.
Late the next week they did follow up with me, informing me there was breakage and it was going to be another week and a half before my glasses would be in. They followed LESSON 1, but they should have followed LESSON 2 –
When your customer is already unhappy with your service for a previous delay or mistake, offer the customer some compensation when their order is delayed again, or even longer than expected. Do something nice for them. A $5 gift card to the local coffee shop can go a long way to soothing ruffled feathers.
Five weeks after my initial appointment, I arrived eager to get my new glasses. Eager to see the world through clear unscratched lenses, but alas, it was not to be. I didn’t have the delightful experience of putting them on and having instant clear vision. Granted, my prescription is a challenging one (prism, progressive bifocals, one near sighted eye and one far) … but having worn glasses for the better part of the past 30 years, I know the glorious feeling I get when I put on brand new, unscratched and perfectly focused glasses. I didn’t have that experience this time. It was difficult for me to focus both my eyes together, especially reading close up. Everything was fine if I closed one eye to look distant, or closed the other eye to read. But when I opened both eyes, focusing them together was difficult.
Being assured that it is common for people to have to get used too a new prescription (something I’ve never had to do before) – I went home. After several days, and not getting used to them, I called the office and scheduled to see the optometrist again. After several measurements and tweaks to the frame, the Dr. assured me that he had done everything right and literally told me “this is as good as it’s going to get.” But I knew better. I had no trouble focusing my eyes together with an old scratched prescription – so something had to be wrong. At any rate, I went away again disgruntled.
Don’t imply that the customer is at fault for your product not living up to what it is supposed too. Apologize to the customer, let the customer feel that you’re interested in their best interests. Don’t send them out the door feeling like they did something wrong.
I called my insurance company and asked to have my benefit reinstated because I needed to see a different optometrist and get a prescription that I could see out of. Mind you, this is 6+ weeks after my initial appointment. The insurance company was really apologetic and made me feel better. It wasn’t my fault, and no, of course I should be able to see out of the glasses. Even with insurance I was $250 out of pocket on them.
(and the insurance company got this one right) Assure the customer the problem is going to be fixed and that you’ll take care of it.
The next day the original optometrist calls me, suggesting I return and he’d try again, this because the insurance office called him and told him he had to see me again and try to get it right. So I went back. This guy, nice as he could be, didn’t know how to make it right. He guessed, trying this, and that, and muttering how he didn’t understand how the prescription was wrong when he knew he’d measured correct.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, and aren’t confident you’re going to make your customer happy – TELL THEM. Let them take their business elsewhere. They’ll think more highly of you for admitting your weakness. Be nice, be polite, but suggest that they visit another business. You might even suggest a competitor whom you know to be an expert suited to the customers specific needs. Don’t try to fake it. You’ll only irritate the customer, and the customer will spread bad word of mouth about you.
Two weeks later I was back at his office, once again ever hopeful that I’d be able to see. Eager to see clearly, I put the new glasses on my face. They were worse than the first attempt. All the good intentions and guessing the Dr. did were for nothing. I couldn’t even see with one eye closed.
to be continued…..