A lesson in customer service.
Over two weeks ago I had a bad experience with my financial institution. I had a bill, in my electronic bill pay that was paid late. As far as I knew I had done the scheduling of the bill properly and timely but it just got paid three days late for some reason. It wasn’t apparent to me why. Not that I cared so much why it happened, but I was curious. The worst part is that the credit card company charged me $28 for being late, plus interest, and if it was paid on time I would have had a zero balance.
Asking for help
Naturally, at this point I was befuddled and reached out to my financial institution for help. What I got was more confusion and no action. They not only couldn’t tell me what happened or why but their solution was non-existent. They were quick to respond when I first called about this issue. I had another payment that had not been received at all according to the vendor. They put a stop payment on that check and reissued the check, then reversed the $30 charge for the stop payment. I have been waiting now for a couple of weeks regarding the electronic payment that went through late, hoping they would reimburse me for the late fee of $28.
From the financial institutions point of view I guess they feel they resolved the issue. I made sure they knew I was charged the late fee so they could make good on their error. As a customer I really don’t care why it happened or how it happened, I just want the late charge covered and assurance that the issue will not continue to happen. They have not provided either, yet.
We always need to look at every customer service issue from the perspective of our customer. What would the average customer expect for their issue to be resolved. What would make them feel like the organization did everything in its power to make sure the customer was satisfied enough to tell someone else of their good experience, or at least not tell someone of their bad experience.
Risk to business
When a customer has a bad experience they will share the negative story with 9-10 people on average. When they have had their expectations exceeded they will tell only half as many people, or less, according to numerous studies. It is in people’s nature to complain much more than praise. When expectations are exceeded the experience is shared with friends because it was unexpected. When we consider the Lifetime Customer Value exceeding customer expectations can provide a business, it makes sense that businesses will want to create an experience that people will rave about. Offer something totally unexpected.
Exceed expectations for lifetime customers
This concept has been proven time and time again by giant organizations such as L.L. Bean, Zappos, Costco, WalMart and especially Stew Leonard’s. Stew Leonard’s goes as far as placing a 3 ton piece of granite in front of every store with their policy on it that the customer is always right. Exceeding customer’s expectations will keep loyal customers coming back for life. To differentiate loyal customers from others we must consider the ones that will shop anywhere for the cheapest price (coupon shoppers) compared to the customers who just want to be treated with respect and nurtured. There lies the difference in loyal customers and ones that will leave as soon as another organization offers a better deal.
Once you have created your customer for life make sure you continually get their feedback of how you can improve. Make sure your business doesn’t stagnate. Create an evangelism for your organization that takes customers to the top of Maslow’s pyramid of hierarchy. So next time you get a complaint make sure you get their feedback and provide a resolution that exceeds what that customer expects. You’ll create a customer for life and your business will thrive.