How to lose a customer in 5 minutes or less

Considering how difficult and time consuming it can be to get a new customer why do businesses find it so easy to lose a current customer? Nothing destroys a business relationship as easily as bad service. Thrown bad response to said bad service into the mix and you have a fatal combination. Let's look a quick example.
I was out with my family last night and we decided to swing by the pharmacy across from our local medical center to pick up a prescription that was sent through earlier in the day. My wife called ahead to make sure that they had received it and that it would be ready. We were assured it would be. The unnamed pharmacy provides drive through service so I can pull up to the window without dragging my whole family including my cute little ankle biters along - perfect!

Drive up, press the button, automated lady tells you to fill in all the info, couple of minutes later a real person says they'll be there in a couple of minutes...no problem so far. 15 minutes go by and I have more cars piled up behind me than at a Rutgers football game. I decide to press the button again. Same robotic lady followed by a person saying we'll be with you in a few minutes.
After 5 minutes a lady behind me gets out and politely comes up to my window asking if I had seen a ‘real’ person yet. I inform her no such luck and we proceed to press the button again. Same response as before.

After another 5 minutes my 3 year old informs me "Daddy I have to go potty". Fearing what would happen if I lose my place in line I get out, my wife takes over the driver's position and the 3 year old and I walk around. Once inside the pharmacy I head to the 'service counter'. I ask for the key to the restroom as that is always locked. I also inform them that my wife is on the other side of that window merely waiting for one item that has already been sent through. Response: 'I am not in charge of the window and we are very busy tonight'. Translation ~ I only work here dude, not my problem! Meanwhile back at the ranch I was passed by a guy in a pickup who drove around and was in the pharmacy receiving his order. There were also two other people standing around waiting - wow very busy indeed.

I hate bad customer service and worse still I hate the response that it is not problem I just work here. Take some pride in your job and in your organization. Anyway, I head to the potty and in the meantime my wife calls them on her cell. The response is a sigh and eventually someone came to 'help' her. Actually it was the young lady who told me she was not responsible for the window - hmm.

That little incident cost them my business. In a few minutes they manage to lose a loyal and regular customer. Although the whole experience was pretty bad, it was the 5 minutes that I spent chatting to the staff (5 minutes) that decided my response.

Many businesses are focusing on training, but more needs to be done in the area of basic customer service. Given the fact that bad customer service can DIRECTLY impact your bottom line I am amazed that not more is done in this area. Is it my imigination or has customer service declined over the past few years? Given my example doesn't it seem like more should be done? What has your experience been either as a customer or an employee related to bad customer service? Have you lost a customer or been the customer who has broken a business relationship because of bad customer service?


RWC 2007 - Springboks all the way

To say I’m excited would be the understatement of the century!
The South African rugby team (the Springboks – Boks for short) have made it through to the World Cup final where they will meet the English. This 2007 World Cup has been one of major upsets with the favorite team from New Zealand (the All Blacks) being knocked out by France in the quarterfinals. In the other quarterfinal England (a MAJOR underdog) beat the mighty team from Australia (the Wallabies). With France vs. England and South Africa vs. Argentina in the semi’s most people favored the host nation (France) to take on the Boks in the final….wrong again, England beat out Les Bleus to make it back to back finals for them.

It’s difficult to explain the excitement of a World Cup to an American. Can you imagine a situation where the U.S. has to select a national football squad from all the various NFC and AFC teams? Now imagine that there are at least 4 international teams that equal the power and skill of your team. Who would you select at quarterback – Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre? [I mention Favre because I am a MAJOR Packers fan]. Imagine the excitement and discussion that would go on.

Who would be the team’s coach – again the two top sides' coaches come to mind as obvious favorites. Would they want the job and all the pressure of leading their side to global glory? Who would you select as wide receivers to compliment the QB’s? Running backs? Could you select Ladainian Tomlinson based on his current form? Are their players on the opposing sides that could counter his running style? Maybe we need to look a guy like Reggie Bush….

Let’s take it one step further and imagine that the new national team loses to Romania in the build up to the World Cup. Oh you didn’t know that Romania had a national football team…well they do in this world. Anyway, Romania is a developing football country (a so called Minnow) that has a great defense that shut both running backs down for the day. Furthermore Brady had a terrible day and threw two interceptions..now what? Should Tony Dungy quit? Maybe it is time to replace him with Bill Belichick? The guy never looks happy but he wins games even if he records some additional footage from the sidelines. Now that I have some NFL supporters’ blood boiling I want to welcome you to the world of international sport. Yes, we have the Olympics but the atmosphere is nowhere near as intense as an international team competition like the World Cup – Rugby, soccer, cricket.

Thanks for allowing me to digress from the world of eLearning and to share my excitement about what should be an epic game on Saturday. The Boks were hoping that Nelson Mandela could come to France to inspire the team to glory – as he did in SA in 1995 – but unfortunately he isn’t physically able to. Nonetheless, he will share a message with the team via video prior to the game and we all hope that this will inspire the boys to glory. On Saturday wear green to show your support.

Op die Bokke!


eLearning jokes: Not funny?

I’ve read a couple more posts on the use of humor including Geetha Krishnan's Humor in eLearning. Geetha’s post echoes most of my thoughts on humor including the issue of political correctness. What I found the most interesting were the horror stories from people who have used humor an offended people.

Make sure to check out David Lee’s comment where he mentions a sales meeting that went wrong due to the use of humor “After returning home from a very successful sales meeting where my product presentations with my marketing manager had received among the highest ratings from the sales force, I was called into my boss's office. The VP of HR and my boss's boss where there. I was informed that two jokes we included in our presentation had offended a handful of representatives and they were calling for the dismissal of me and my marketing colleague. Fortunately, a personal apology and an official reprimand calmed the offended employees and we kept our jobs.”

Earlier Davis states that “No instructional designer can be expected to know so much about every target employee to ensure a joke or a cartoon will not offend. In the case of instructor lead training, there is no assurance that every facilitator will have the background understanding and comedic timing to deliver a joke well. Best case scenario is you humor most and bore some. Worst case scenario is the company is sued and people lose their jobs.”

Do you similar horror stories? Would you agree that humor in training should be avoided? Could this be the sad reality of training in the year 2007? Are all blondes sensitive about blonde jokes? Is it possible for us to laugh at ourselves? Are jokes by their very nature at the expense of others? If so, is the price to high to pay? Are there are examples of training that uses humor effectively?

Interestingly the same argument is often made in connection with marketing i.e. humor in marketing is to risky. One of my favorite and most succuessful advertising campaigns is the Aflec duck. Maybe the key is to make fun of animals.... Then again the Geico gecko has a British accent. Are the British offended by the associated connection?