Last week I discussed the idea of how the most minuscule details can add up to a customer’s overall impression of you and your company, either positively or negatively affecting your brand. This week I’d like to continue along the same vein, discussing the customer journey and further elaborating on the concept of being your own customer or walking a mile in your customers’ shoes.
I was recently reading an article by Michael Hyatt on total customer experience and it reminded me of a similar experience I had recently.
There is an electronics store here in Switzerland I patronise frequently. I have a business account set up with them and until recently have been happy to be a customer. At the end of last year, I ordered a new mobile phone from their website because I wanted one with dual sim. I scheduled it for in store pickup and then came the notice that they couldn’t give a delivery date due to fact that it was new to market and they had no supplier delivery info. I was a little bummed but thought to myself no one ever died of waiting on an order. I’d survive.
One month later I got the pickup notice. I drove excitedly into Basel to pick up the phone and specifically asked the guy at the counter if he could verify this was in fact a dual sim phone. He checked the computer and said yes, it was listed as dual sim. So, I go home and open it up only to find it was in fact not dual sim.
Over the next few days, I got online and did some research to prepare myself to go back in and discuss. In the meantime, the company sent out an email, apologising for the error and offering a 20 CHF gift certificate on a new purchase or outlining their return process if I wanted to go that route.
At this point, I’m not totally happy about driving into town again or paying for parking at the expensive parking next door but I am happy they made an effort to make things right.
I go to the store and take my “K” ticket for “Kundendienst” which means customer service. Unfortunately, all this happened during the school holidays, so I had my 3.5 year old daughter with me. We waited and we waited and we waited. Thank goodness for the 15 flat screens playing various animal videos, because just like Michael Hyatt, I came ill prepared. I had assumed the “K” ticket would mean speedier service. It didn’t.
I finally get up to the counter, hand the letter and the receipts to the nice, young man at the counter and he immediately knows the problem. Score! I always love it when I don’t have to explain myself. He explains he has to refund everything separately and since I (foolishly) opened the memory card first, I’d have to pay a 10 CHF restocking fee. I asked for an exception since I wouldn’t have returned it if I’d kept the phone, which I would have done had it been properly advertised. Nope. Sorry. Policy.
Ok moving on, he had to refund the memory card, the phone and the warranty separately. In cash. So now I have to go to the bank and make a deposit. Meanwhile, I have an overtired 3.5 year old hopping around like a banshee next to me and I’m getting less pleased by the minute. It gets better.
In the time since I bought this new to market phone, waited a month to pick it up and returned it for being falsely advertised, there has been an adjustment to the price. They now sell the phone at a lower price (I guess due to the discrepancy on the sim card issue) and they didn’t want to refund me what I paid.
The interaction went something like this: Yes, but the new price is this. The credit card company charges a fee. We already mentioned the restocking fee. It’s all in the “AGB: Allgemein Geschäftsbedingungen” or Business Policies.
They basically wanted to penalise me almost 100 CHF for having chosen to do business with them. After three iterations and getting a manager (with a smart aleck attitude) involved, I finally got the price to within 20 CHF of what I paid.
The real question is what is the end result:
- I not only had to go into town once, but twice.
- I ended up losing 20 CHF (with nothing to show for it) and it would have been closer to 100 if I hadn’t stood my ground.
- I was a loyal, happy customer up to this point: I was at the “refer” stage in the John Jantsch, Marketing Hourglass
- I’m now back at the “trust” stage of the cycle, considering if I dare do business with them again.
- I have a few choices: tell everyone I know about this experience and become a detractor, write the company a letter and tell them how displeased I am (which might be a further waste of time and energy) or just disappear into the ethos of the marketplace, never to be heard from again.
This last point brings me to the main point of this article: not all your customers will tell you why they stop being your customer. They just simply disappear off the radar and start buying from or working with someone who will take care of them, make them feel important and make doing business a real pleasure, not a burden.
If you aren’t evaluating and continually improving the buying experience of your customers, you should be. Customers don’t care about your policies or your internal systems or challenges. They care about their problems and their experience doing business with you. If you aren’t attempting to elicit feedback from your customers about these experiences, in order to know what you’re doing right and what you could do better, they very likely will start looking for a company that cares enough about them to do so.