It has gotten so bad out there with respect to customer service – let me clarify, the lack of customer service – that I decided to take a look at a typical week as a consumer, trying to just live a normal life with as little hassle as possible.
Is service really at such low ebb? Do companies lose that much in sales? The sad truth is you can find examples of terrible service wherever you look – literally every day of the week.
We have become so apathetic we accept this level of service as basically, “Well, that is the way it is.” I say no. We need to do something about this or it will continue to spiral downward, and we the consumer simply will be more aggravated as time goes on.
Here’s what happened in one week of my life (before social distancing, that is):
Wednesday: I went to a travel agent – someone new a friend referred me to. I told her, “My plans fell through. I want to go anywhere in the world for one week, somewhere I can have fun and not think.”
She gave me a book and said, “Read through this.”
I said, “Give me five choices.”
She rattled off a list of every city in the world. So I went to my own travel agent, who gave me three choices – just what I wanted. I took her first recommendation.
Thursday: I got a lab bill for a doctor’s office visit. That really had me steamed because I’d been told the total cost would be $280, and here was a bill for another $56. When I called, the woman said, “We forget to tell people that sometimes this happens.”
Friday: I needed to buy some new running shorts for my normal workouts. At the first store, there were no clerks in sight and all the sizes were mixed together on one rack. I got frustrated and left. At the second store, the clerk said the shorts were in the back. He disappeared. After 10 minutes, I left. The people at the third store were great, but didn’t have shorts. I found what I needed at the fourth store. This was not my plan to take a couple of hours for a simple purchase.
Saturday: I was in an upscale department store and saw a beautiful leather jacket for $900. Now, I usually shop at a particular chain, but this was a good month, and I said, why not? The jackets were all chained together. It took me five minutes to find a clerk who didn’t have the key, didn’t know where it was and couldn’t find it. I left.
Sunday: I didn’t go out. I had 11 friends over to watch a game. I ordered five pizzas, but when I got there to pick them up, they had no record of the order. They finally found it a half-hour later, and then they only made four pizzas. I left with the pizzas.
Monday: I needed a software program from the computer store. It was on sale for $700, but the salesman didn’t know the product, didn’t know the price and didn’t even know if the program was loaded on a computer for a quick look. I walked out.
Tuesday: So far everything has going fine. But I hadn’t been to dinner yet when I wrote this column.
The examples I gave should point out companies and their employees do not care as they once did. I am not here to tell you why and what we can do to fix the situation, but just to point out the obvious.
The most important aspect of sales for an organization is going out and getting the customer through marketing or salespeople. The second aspect is keeping them. Think back to your last party. When it was over, who called you and thanked you for a good time? Didn’t that make you feel good?
If you call the customer the day after they place an order, and you say, “I really appreciate you having trust and faith in me to deliver the order,” isn’t that the same thing? It hits home. Again, common sense. Call back afterward and say thank you.
Remember: People buy from people. Your clients are buying you first, and your products or services second.
Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at Halbecker.com.