I refuse to be one of those people who’s jaded and negative. I’m the person who goes to great lengths to make sure the manager of a restaurant knows when their bathroom needs attention or equally, if it looks nice. I’ll always make an effort to let someone know when I receive superior service. Many people only reserve the dreaded, “may I speak with your manager” for negative feedback…me, I like to share the good stuff. Conversely, I will go out of my way to communicate poor customer service to someone who can impact future experiences.
Over the past 4 months I have spent a total of 6 hours on the phone with Verizon customer service…what does customer service even mean if they’re at risk of losing me as a customer because I’m not getting any service? Needless to say, I’m not very happy with the outcome and I seriously had to walk away from the phone before I blew a gasket…I could not believe what I was hearing.
Without boring you with the details the verdict is: big phone conglomerate 1; Fortner 0. They’re right, I’m wrong (reference You Can’t Win ’em All for a laugh). And, according to Ms. Congeniality on the phone, it doesn’t really matter what my notes say, their notes “don’t lie.” That’s it! 48 minutes into this last conversation she basically informed me that I was mistaken and apparently confused about what actually took place the three previous months…because it’s not “in her notes!”
I’m a GREAT customer. I always brag about my positive experiences and rally friends to that particular store, service or restaurant. I’m a big tipper and a loyal consumer. I’m what you would call a satisfied consumer who knows how she likes to be treated. I am not hard to satisfy. But one thing I’ve learned by being on the other end of customer service is that even satisfied customers don’t make loyal customers. I know, because I’m leaving Verizon after five years of being a “satisfied” customer.
With my career at least, I consider a truly loyal customer as one that can’t imagine doing business with anyone but me. They end up being my best advertiser because they’ve become advocates for what I do. AND if you’re lucky, they’ll even bore their friends with stories of how great you are! Businesses don’t FIND loyal customers, they MAKE them!
The funny thing about customer loyalty is that there is a direct correlation to positive customer service and repeat business. “Duh,” you say but believe it or not many workers and companies believe it’s enough to earn your business, the rest is left to fate, attrition or that it’s someone else’s concern. It’s not really as much that I’m loyal to my restaurants, businesses and services…it’s that they’re loyal to me! Man, does that sound completely self-absorbed or what? Whatever the case, it should be all about me—and the many “me’s” I represent. I’m not a number, I’m not “just a customer” and if I represent the majority, a company could be in trouble if we all walked away from a five year relationship. What happened to the old adage, “the customer is always right?” Hmm, must not have been “in the notes.”
Back in 2006, I decided that it was my responsibility to provide my staff with the tools to make our customers loyal, repeat customers. I created my own list of “non-negotiables” that I try to follow in my client interaction:
- Everyone we interact with—whether co-worker, vendor or client—IS OUR CUSTOMER
- We are all responsible for their loyalty
- We never say, “I can’t,” without first exhausting all creative ideas
- We are committed to creating a better experience
- We are committed to learning new systems and procedures to better assist each other and our customers
- We will spend the time that is necessary to understand the question in order to provide a creative solution
- We appreciate our customers because they chose US
- We are committed to creating experiences for our customers that they might be willing to pay for.
And those bullets are also my guideline for how I expect to be treated. Make a list of non-negotiables for your business; it may mean the difference between winning or losing a great customer.
Hey Verizon, can you hear me now?