“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends. ” ~ Jeff Bezos
I’ve been reminded of this numerous times lately and last week I got to witness a first-hand example of this principle being put to use. In the past, if a customer was dissatisfied, they had to make a concerted effort to complain. They had to go home, locate contact information and wait for someone to return their call. Even then, their complaint was handled at the local level in most cases and no further damage occurred.
Today, the game has changed completely.
Last week, as I was flying back from Buffalo, I was in an airport waiting for a connecting flight. I stopped at a national sandwich chain for something to drink and to catch up on emails and phone calls. I took the table nearest the counter and heard an interesting exchange of poor customer service. I was close enough to hear the person behind the counter being, shall we say, less than friendly with her customers. A gentleman wanted to order a sandwich and after the counter person made several comments that clearly displayed her desire to be doing just about anything besides waiting on customers, the gentleman said, “You know what? Keep your sandwich, I’ll go somewhere else.”
The woman behind the counter, continuing her indignation, told the customer, “Then you need to put these potato chips back where you got them,” making no attempt to resolve the issue with the dissatisfied customer. I won’t repaet the customer’s response. Let’s just say her comment simply escalated an already strained interaction.
After the gentleman began to walk away, he stopped, took out his cell phone, turned around took a photo of the woman behind the counter and stated, “I want to make certain your corporate office knows exactly who I am talking about when I email them my complaint about your service.”
If this national sandwich chain is lucky, that is as far as the customer will take it. If they are not so lucky, he will also post his experience on Facebook, LinkedIn and countless other social media outlets and this one instance of poor customer service could end up costing them an enormous amount is lost sales.
Such is the state of customer service in the new digital marketplace. Gone are the days when a disgruntled customer really had very little recourse. Word of mouth has taken on an entirely new meaning. In the past, word of mouth meant a very small circle of family and friends. Today, however, word of mouth can easily expand to thousands of people via blog posts and other social outlets.
Providing exceptional customer service is no longer something top companies strive for, it is now a necessity if you want to thrive in the 21st century marketplace. It is imperative that every person in a customer service position remembers the immediate impact a disgruntled customer can have on your business and avoid those situations from escalating to that point.
No, the customer is not always right, but they are always the customer and must be given the dignity, respect and exceptional customer service they demand in today’s world. Fall short of this and your business will suffer like never before.
Everyone is capable of giving exceptional customer service and I believe on occasion, most people do, but ask yourself, “Do I give exceptional customer service each and every time I interact with a customer?” If the answer is, “No”, then it is time to step up your game. What can you do today to take your customer service to the next level and insure no one snaps your picture to attach to a complaint email sent to the corporate office?
***Disclaimer – The photo above is off the Internet and the lady in the photo is not the subject of this blog post.
- Think Before You Speak: Even the Wires Have Ears (telovations.wordpress.com)
- The importance of positive touch-point interactions (funkyoatmeal.wordpress.com)
- Are Your Customers Silently Seething? (themarlincompany.com)
- Customer Service and some dead easy rules (timgarrattnottingham.co.uk)