Monday, 13 September 2010

Two rules to disappointment your customer

It’s not easy to get good customer service. Goodness knows, most of us would be shocked to find it.

I am fully expecting to queue for ages at the bank, I am fully expecting to have my phone query re-routed 5 times, I don’t flinch when shop assistants look down on me.

Our expectations as customers are really quite low so this actually leaves bags of opportunity for a brand to do better than average and really shine. On the flip side I have one rule for you to be sure to follow if you are really looking to disappoint your customer.

Rule One: “Over promise”.

I recently sent my iphone for repair. The screen was smashed, I didn’t even drop it but all iphone owners will know how sensitive the little blighters are. Not having taken out apple’s extortionate insurance, I decided to send it to They looked quite reputable, had done a really good job on their web site. Lots of reassurance I was in the right place.

More importantly they offer a 24 hour repair process. Pretty important when your phone is integral to your business. It’s the main part of their proposition.

So of course you can guess that it is still there 7 days later.

They have quite a good email alert process that lets you know the different stages that the phone is going through. So I had the alert that they had received the order and then another for reception of the parcel but nothing since.

So to be really sure to disappoint your customer further and potentially they make sure they tell everyone about it is to then follow the second rule to ensure extreme disappoint which is

Rule Two: “under communicate”.

In other words, don’t bother telling your customer what is going on. Don’t explain under any circumstances what’s gone wrong in the process, just hunker down and hope it will all go away.

Another good example of this rule in practice is demonstrated by most airlines. They pride themselves on never letting their customers know that the flight will be late and by how long.

So you see how it works?

1) Over promise
2) Under communicate

If on the other hand you want to make your business shine and stand out from the crowd, gaining valuable referrals & recommendations, creating a new customer base and saving you marketing money:

1) Underpromise and excel by doing better
Such as how vistaprint tell you it will take 21 days to send you their business cards but they always seem to arrive in less than 10 days

2) Communicate regularly

If by any chance there is a problem with an order or you’re late replying to a client, let them know. Send a little note and you will be surprised how much people appreciate it.

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