Customer Service: The Right Way & The Wrong Way

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If you know me at all, you know that I am a full supporter of the Apple brand and owner of multiple products bearing their logo. Why?  It just works.  I purchased the original iPhone the day it was released and anxiously awaited the release of the iPhone 4. Due to my original 2g phone dying Memorial Day weekend, I was unable to pre-order the new phone; resigning myself to waiting in line on June 29th; the day AT&T had phones available for retail purchase.Showing up at my local store around 7:00 am, I was greeted by a line of other iPhone enthusiasts…stretching around the side and back of the store. As the store opened and the line slowly crept forward, we were greeted and kept up to date on what to expect by Tom, an AT&T store employee.  Tom supplied answers to our questions as well as water for the mostly patient, soon to be iPhone 4 owners.  He even managed to provide one customer with a bagel because she was so hungry.  Tom told everyone he was not a usual staff member at this store, he was just a floater; someone that worked where needed.  This man could write a book on customer service.  If someone had a specific question; he asked their name; went inside to find the answer, if he did not know it himself; and then would return with the information.  It was a pleasure to watch someone excel at customer service.  The entire staff at the AT&T store performed very well during a busy and challenging day.The AT&T and Apple experience was an example of customer service done the right way.  What follows is an unfortunate example of the exact opposite; customer service done the wrong way.In addition to my consulting business, I work as Marketing Director for Consolidated Construction Services.  In this roll, I work to educate the public on what Consolidated does as well as manage all marketing efforts including their online presence.  One of my goals is to make sure that Consolidated is getting the best return on the money they spend on marketing efforts; including their website.To that regard, we made the decision to move hosting of their website to a new company.  I know the owner of the hosting company and have a deep comfort level with their abilities and organization.  If you wish to check them out, need hosting or design services contact them: Next Generation Designs.I notified the former hosting company during a phone call on June 29th; due to several reasons, we had not made the decision on moving the hosting until the end of June. Our hosting was up for renewal on July 1st and I committed to Bill Norton, the owner of The LakeNet and ComNet Web Solutions that, due to the late notice, we would pay for an additional thirty to sixty days of hosting and that this could serve as our notice of not renewing our contract.  That did not go over well with Mr. Norton; he stated that we had to pay for another year of hosting…..although we were moving our site and email to a new hosting company!  Within fifteen minutes of our phone call, he suspended our website and email accounts; ignored our phone calls and was completely unresponsive….although we still had time left on our hosting contract!!  After  a couple of hours, he restored the site and email account access so that Next Generation Designs could move it to their servers.  He then fired off an illiterate email to me and blind copied the owner of Consolidated on the email.  The owner’s response?  “I want the entire world to know how unprofessional he is.”I have not included links to Mr. Norton’s company on purpose because I am not going to promote this person or this type of behavior.  Maybe he was upset because we didn’t purchase the $18,000 blog and advertising package he pitched to us. You read that correctly….an $18,000 package.Customer service is not hard; if a company the size of AT&T can provide exceptional service with the launch of the largest product in Apple’s history, a local hosting company could at least strive to provide decent service.That is what I say; what say you?

Comments

  1. Hey John,It blows my mind that so many companies and their representatives forget WHY they are in business. They dodge prospect/customer phone calls and put in ridiculous automated answering machines. They hire people who aren’t fit for the job out of convenience, cheap labor, or some other short-sighted reason. They argue with customers because of pride or ego. I can go on and on, but the main point is – customers are NOT supposed to be an inconvenience – they are the reason they are employed, the cause of their profitability, their entire reason for being! Sales ability acquires customers – and that’s an immediate benefit – but service keeps customers for repeat, referral, upgrade business. SERVE is the root word of customer service – live, breathe it, hire it, promote it, deliver it – or lose your business to me, John Lusher, and other good people who have a sincere desire to help customers win!Yet another great post, JL!

  2. Tina Brooks says:

    One of the things every company should pride themselves on is customer service, without it, you have no customers.One company cannot be all things to all people. There are people out there for whom MY company is not a good fit. The right thing to do is to be gracious, "sorry we’re not the right fit, perhaps we can do business again sometime in the future." Leaving a sour taste in someone’s mouth just isn’t on.Facilitating a customers’ departure in the most efficient and kindly manner possible will leave a good taste in their mouth. And because you never know what someone is going to say about you after they’re gone, you want what they say to be good. Whereas if you behave like this ex-hosting company… You get brickbats.Someone once said, (Dale Carnegie, maybe?) "if you treat your customers well, they might tell someone about it, but if you treat someone poorly, they will tell EVERYONE!"Nuff said?

  3. Very good comments Tina! It is easy to provide good customer service! Thank you!

  4. That is a pretty stark contrast! I wonder, how in this age of so much preaching of customer service, can this happen (your ex-hosting company)? It does baffle my mind as a small business owner and yet I do see opportunities almost daily to make it or break it with a client. Thankfully we have plenty of examples, like Tom above, who show us appropriate responses both proactively and reactively to clients to build the trust and relationship. Thanks for the shock therapy 🙂 and I hope I can continue to lean in Tom’s direction!J

  5. Danielle Miller says:

    Holy Moly John!!!In this age of transparency, necessitated by the the arrival of a medium that literally puts you and/or your company under a microscope (the internet) it never fails to astound me when I hear stories like this.I love how you have provided such a clearcut example of superior customer service and the flip side as well. Sounds like Mr. Norton could use some customer relationship training and facilitation or suffer the consequences…Great post John!

  6. Thank you Danielle! I agree, in this age of transparency, companies must learn how important customer service is and how the world will know when it is bad customer service! Thanks for the comments!

  7. Thanks J – that is what I was striving for, the stark contrast. Let’s all try to be more like Tom! Appreciate the comments and support!

  8. Hey John,It blows my mind that so many companies and their representatives forget WHY they are in business. They dodge prospect/customer phone calls and put in ridiculous automated answering machines. They hire people who aren’t fit for the job out of convenience, cheap labor, or some other short-sighted reason. They argue with customers because of pride or ego. I can go on and on, but the main point is – customers are NOT supposed to be an inconvenience – they are the reason they are employed, the cause of their profitability, their entire reason for being! Sales ability acquires customers – and that’s an immediate benefit – but service keeps customers for repeat, referral, upgrade business. SERVE is the root word of customer service – live, breathe it, hire it, promote it, deliver it – or lose your business to me, John Lusher, and other good people who have a sincere desire to help customers win!Yet another great post, JL!

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