Great Expectations

Customer Service center at 23d Street downtown...

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Today’s thought comes from a friend. She recently had a close encounter of the corporate kind with her local cable company although which company is actually immaterial for our purposes (TWC). In fact, this could be the phone company or an e-commerce site or a doctor’s office.  The reason I say this, as you’ll see, is that any number of businesses are guilty of committing the same sins as this one.  But I’ll let her tell you about it.

The gist of the story is that she needed some service and instead of the company doing what it could to accommodate her, she was forced to accommodate the company.  The good news is that she had a series of really good customer service interactions with them to set up and then schedule an appointment.  The bad news is…well, I’ll let her explain:

Installation day comes. I rush home to be present at 5pm. 5, 6 & 7pm come & go with no cable guy, I call TWC. They say he’s running late & should call me within 10 minutes as they were going to “flash” him. No call from cable installer, but I did get a customer service survey call. At 9:00pm I call again. Same story. I get an immediate customer service call. Cable guy calls at 10pm & says he’s running late & will be there around 11. I say ok., He shows up at 11.

That’s as in 11PM.  Interesting that the first customer satisfaction survey came before the installer – one would think that they’d be more concerned about getting the guy there than making sure the folks who took the call and didn’t solve the problem were nice about it.  But that’s just me.  The saga continued, she got her cable but she also took away a couple of great business points:

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t tell me that the technician will be there between 5 & 7 if that’s not likely to happen. Don’t say he’ll call me unless you know he will.   Keep your customers updated when you know their expectations will not be met. I’m not so upset that the cable guy didn’t show up until 11 as I am that no one bothered to tell me. I left work early to pick up my kid so I can make sure I was home in sufficient time for the cable guy’s potential arrival at 5pm when he didn’t show up for 6 more hours. I could have gone swimming with my kids in the back yard, taken a shower, gone out to dinner, etc. I changed my schedule based upon what I was told. When TWC realized they couldn’t do what they said they would do, they should have updated me.
Exactly.  She had to service them rather than be treated to excellent service.  Customers are generally pretty forgiving as long as we communicate and manage expectations.  I boil that down to letting them know there’s a problem, letting them know what you’re doing to solve it, and most importantly, letting them know that you care.  Again, in this case it was a cable company but it could just as easily be your company showing up 6 hours late (and I wonder what time he left?).
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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

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