This is a business topic today. I love business – I love working with businesses and seeing them reach new levels of wholeness. The full package!
Because I am hyper aware of business and how businesses can excel, I cannot help but dissect a business and come up with alternative ways they can do things. I am a tweaker, and I am really good at it. But it is constantly in my brain and doesn’t turn off!
I walk in to a store and think ‘if this was over here and that was over there’ it would show so much better. I hear medical assistants answer the phone and think ‘if they just said it this way or that way’ I bet the patient at the other end would feel more comfortable. IN fact my book Think Opposite: Using the Domino Effect to Change Your Business Change the World, among other things, deals with customer service
A few examples:
I bought a pair of pants from a boutique in a neighbouring town. I wore them once and the stitching started falling apart. I called the store and was given a very curt “you will have to bring them into the store”. The tone was unfriendly and irritated, and I immediately felt uncomfortable.
About a week later I went into the store and they would only give me a store credit because they didn’t “do” refunds. Now I understand that if I just didn’t like the pants or if it were past their return policy cut off date that that would be the answer, but that wasn’t it.
They sold me pants that malfunctioned. It was their responsibility to make me happy. I had to drive from two towns away. I had spent almost $500 the first (and only) time I was at their store, and because of the reluctance to own the mistake; they lost me as a customer. Good business? I don’t think so.
Compare that to a locally owned business, on the surface they should be similar. Both female owned, both boutiques, similar price points, but that is where the similarity ends. This place is called CatWalk. I bought a sweater from her and the stitching at the seam came apart. I called her and her immediate response was “OMG that is terrible. How can I fix it? I have a great seamstress and I am happy to foot the bill or you can bring it back.” Who do you think I am loyal to?
It’s not just retail. Medical offices are typically horrendous for their customer service, and I don’t think changing the name customer to client or patient should change the rules. They are still paying for you to have a job.
I referred a friend to a doctor’s office in town. She phoned up to confirm her appointment and it turns out she had missed it, and they refused to see her after that. They were rude and didn’t even consider the possibility that the mistake was on their end. After all she wasn’t even in town when they were expecting her, and she knew she wouldn’t be so why would she have agreed to that date? So not only have they alienated her, they have alienated me. Because, of course, I had to call them about this and when I did, they assured me that they pride themselves on their customer service. I can attest that they fall short. I know people who have cried due to the way they have been spoken to.
It doesn’t take much to make people happy. Talk to them. See what can be done. Don’t stand behind policy, stand behind customer service. It’s the loyalty that will keep you in business and just make you a better company. Whenever we err on the side of WIN/WIN we, well, win. In both of negative situations I mentioned, I lost which means in the end they lose too. But Robin at Catwalk won and so did I in that case. If someone is losing in your scenario and you think you are winning, I promise you, you are not winning. It’s not possible.
Don’t get me wrong, not all situations can come up smelling like roses, there are limits. But if you don’t even explore the possibility, then you are missing out on a broader scope of success. Discover what your customers like and do more of that. Discover what they don’t like and do less of that. After all, if you are doing it right you are serving your “people” and keeping them happy, which in the long run will keep you happy. Life is easier that way…. And happier