Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Customer Service Is All Bark AND All Bite

Today I had an interesting chat on IM with my friend who had a negative customer service experience, and we discussed just how important it is get good customer service in order to be happy with a what you're buying.

Here's his scenario, briefly:

My friend's wife signed up for a dog training class and, despite what it said on their website that the trainer would follow up within a week of ordering a class, the trainer never called them to confirm the order. So right off the bat, the company didn't make good on their promise to reach out to the customer. Meanwhile, they were scrambling to find out whether or not the class was still on, or get any other information they might need in order to attend. Two months went by and not a word from the dog trainer left them too far in the dark about the class. A simple phone call would have put them at ease and made all the difference in the world.

To me, when my initial interaction with a company, non-profit, or other organization is negative, I get extremely down on them, and they have a long, uphill battle to win me back. In our chat today, I likened my friend's situation to that of meeting the first salesperson you talk to at a car dealer. If he or she greets me with a frown, or pressures me into buying, or doesn't know the product line, or just generally ignores me, you can bet I'll take my business elsewhere if at all possible, even if it was just a bad moment for that salesperson who is otherwise dynamite. I easily get turned off by poor customer service, and it's tough to win me back, and I suspect that most customers feel the same way.

On the flip side, this past week I've been shopping for a new car insurance provider in order to save some money on my current auto policy. I communicated with three different companies, and each person I dealt with at each company was extremely friendly, knowledgeable, and interested in helping me through the buying process. One would think that this kind of positive attitude would be commonplace for a business when dealing with a customer that is looking to spend money, but unfortunately, it's often anything but.

Even though good marketing or word-of-mouth can bring a person to the door, a good customer service representative is crucial to bringing along and potentially closing the sale, whether it's for a dog training class, a new car, or a new auto insurance policy. It's really the engine that keeps the sale going.

Gregg, if you're reading this, good chatting with you today, and I hope the dog training class turned out to be a success in spite of an *ahem* ruff start.

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