Great Customer Service Doesn’t Mean Saying Yes to Every Customer Request
As I continue offering my most rewarding offering, Real Time Email, I realize how amazing it is to delight customers on a daily basis.
All it takes is humanizing communications, and of course, being so fast that they’re WOWED by your attention.
But there will be customers who want more. For example, there’s the person who thinks that every experience should be like Zappos and Amazon, where they will let you keep a product you bought accidentally. And there’s the person who expects you to send them flowers when it accidentally slips that they had a death in the family. (Okay, that hasn’t happened to me. Yet.)
But not everyone can be Amazon. Perhaps you’re a super small company operating on sharp profit margins. Perhaps it’s just you and your sister running the brand, and your company doesn’t have 183,100 employees.
Hell, if I had a problem and the mistake was mine, I would certainly try as the consumer to see what the business can do, but I can’t fault it to them if the business sticks to their guns and enforces policies they have made so that they don’t go broke!
NOT EVERYONE IS AMAZON AND YOU CANNOT EXPECT AMAZON SERVICE EVERYWHERE. Let that sink in, please.
Trust me, I would LOVE for brands to be Amazon-like. But the reality is, most businesses are private and don’t have a stock ticker. They’re run by young mothers struggling to put their kids through school. They’re run by elderly couples trying to make sure their mortgage gets paid off so that their disabled army vet son, his wife, and their four children can have one less thing to worry about on their growing list of expenses. They are like you and me, average people living a job.
profound. why you should support small business. pic.twitter.com/eZmUqTaygw
— Tamar Weinberg (@tamar) May 27, 2015
I still believe this. Big businesses have the flexibility to give you superior experiences, but superior experiences don’t have to come out of saying yes to unreasonable customer requests.
What you can do in the meantime as a brand is to delight and excite through excellent support, in the hopes that yeah, people will share their experience with their friends so that you actually start seeing more sales.
It starts with something as small and as minor as being faster on your feet, putting your customer first!
Because maybe, just maybe, you will be so great at this level of support that your brand will grow. I see it happening already.
But let’s look at the unrealistic side of things: any consumer must understand the struggles and challenges of businesses. If you buy a product that is customized that says “this is a customized product! All sales final! No returns!” you can’t blame a company for enforcing the policy that the product cannot be sent back. After all, let’s reverse the roles for a moment: you hand painted a photo of my family on a custom and beautiful jewelry box. You bought the equipment, spent hours handcrafting that box, sculpting the wood so that it was ornate and perfect, spent an even longer time painting the photo of my family on that box, and let’s be clear here, you communicated EVERYTHING clearly on the product page in terms of what was going to be sent to the customer. I, Joe Consumer, didn’t want to waste my time verifying the measurements of the jewelry box. Once it arrived, shipped with the highest quality packaging materials with an insured package covering it all, I was furious–it’s way too small! So what do I do? I open my email, demand to get this returned, threaten you that I’m going to badmouth you on social media–and all because I was too fucking lazy to do my due diligence?
No, that’s not how it works!
Even if you paid $29 for the product, it is your fault and no one else’s if you didn’t read the measurements (and then you have the audacity to tell me, “well, no one reads those!” That’s still the business’s fault?). It’s your fault and no one else’s that you didn’t verify the product selection on the drop down, instead choosing the default selections that didn’t jive with what you actually wanted to buy (“I wanted a blue knob, not a white one!”). It’s your fault and no one else’s if you finally get around to reading the order you placed 5 days after it was placed, while the checkout page says “You can only change your order within the first 24 hours! After you place the order, it is going to be sent to our factory to be made for you and cannot be changed!” and then to bitch and moan that we didn’t process the changes you decided to submit TWO WEEKS LATER. (Yeah, so you saw the email 5 days later and told the brand 14 days later. Smart.)
It sucks to buy a product you weren’t expecting to buy, but diligence falls on consumers, not on businesses to read minds and process intent. We meet you after the order is placed. We don’t know you before. But you know us. Study your purchases before they are finalized online. Don’t blame the company if you made the egregious error. Forget “the customer is always right.” Sometimes they’re wrong. Sometimes I’m wrong.
As a business, you’re doing just fine by me if you’re getting in touch with your customers quickly and showing them how they matter. Maybe you can’t financially say yes to everything, and that’s fine. If you actually respond to me and show me you care, I’ll be a fan of yours for life.
Because yeah, there are so many brands that can’t even figure out basic customer service. And that’s a void that needs to be filled. The next step: ultimate domination so that you can recreate the Amazon and Zappos incentive experience. Don’t we all need to get there?
We all need to start somewhere!
THIS IS THE BEST MARKETING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR BUSINESS. I don’t become a fan of a company that does cool marketing. I become a fan of a company that gives a damn about me as a customer. You do that, and your battle is halfway won.