As the economy continues to struggle forward I was reminded today on two occasions how easy it is for a company to lose customers through poor service. The first came when a technician came to ‘fix’ our washing machine at home which is all of six months old. He left after an hour saying he needed a part to be shipped and would return in 10 days!!! Now he could have handled this well but he laughed when asked if he could perhaps come back sooner given we have three young kids and rather need a machine. So lesson one here was don’t buy a Whirlpool Duet washing machine and expect it to last and lesson number two was you can expect lousy service when it does break.
My second encounter with poor service was with WalMart. I want to buy my son a Star Wars chess set. Searching online I noticed WalMart has them in ‘Limited stores’ but not online (odd I know). I called our local store with the WalMart product number in hand. First they put me through to Toys where the first person I talked to had no clue what I was talking about. The second person said I needed to talk to customer service and that he’d put me through. After three rings the line went dead and I was cut off… I called back and asked for customer service. This time the lady asked me for the product number (she actually did this twice) and then put me on hold for twenty minutes, after which I hung up and gave up. My son will have to wait I decided.
In both cases I could have come away feeling people were doing their best and I would have been OK with the outcome. Yet in both cases I encountered people that never once put themselves in the shoes of the customer. Doing this in times when the economy is doing well isn’t good but you may survive. Doing this when times are tough is asking for trouble. Customers will walk away and never come back. For PROs this is something to consider. You will quite often be dealing with less than good news in the next year BUT you can make the experience of dealing with that news a whole lot better if you for a moment put yourself in the shoes of the person you are dealing with and imagine how they may react. Think customer service.