The term “Customer Experience” is a current buzz word, but call it customer service, care, satisfaction, or even excellence; the sad truth is that all too often, “Customer Frustration” and “Customer Disappointment” are more accurate descriptions.
Yesterday was a particularly low point for me as a customer. Trying to replace a lost/stolen mobile phone all week has become a nightmare with no end in sight. I have endured a record breaking hold time, been hung up on by a customer service rep and was turned away from a store empty-handed and trembling. Being cut off (ongoing, in case you try to reach me) from my business phone line of seven years is beyond an inconvenience, but only one person along the way (not in a customer interfacing role) has uttered an empathetic word.
Immediately following the incident at the telecom shop, I received a bizarre phone call from a business contact threatening legal action because he had underestimated the obvious risk of Word of Mouth Marketing, and left a few of the wrong (connected) people with a queasy feeling about his business practices. Will threats help him build a reputation as being nice to do business with?
Amused by the call and feeling like I had nothing to lose, I attempted for the fourth time to make an appointment with an adviser of whom I am a long time client, but one week, one e-mail and three phone calls later, I have been told by three different people that only the one person can schedule an appointment and is too busy to come to the phone. I have never received a call back. The persistence required to simply make an appointment exceeds my level of stamina in such matters.
We are also trying to purchase an expensive piece of equipment for our office, so I called once more to request the overdue quote, but again the one who could help me was not available. When you have to beg to buy something from a company, how good will the after sales support be? With all the talk of the economic downturn, you would think companies big and small would make more of an effort to keep their existing customers.
At the end of the day, I came across Seth Godin‘s timely blog post, asking the question; How much extra for nice? He points out the huge gap between what people are willing to pay for nice (a lot) and what it would cost businesses to deliver it (almost nothing). I have to agree with Seth Godin that this is a huge business opportunity. Today I would pay any price for nice!