Customer service is not very hard. I think very few firms really try.
There are 4 doors you need to use.
Door One your physical location. This is the most expensive. Your business need to have hours convenient to the customer. Few firms do. Most banks are open hours and days convenient to the owner of the business. We call this banker hours. There are many people that prefer to go to a place of business and see people face to face. If your employees are rude and indifferent it is the kiss of death. Most employees have never been trained on customer service. Very few are good at it. Too many firms do not care about who they hire.
Door Two your web site. It should run 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The problem is often something does not work. The system has to be flawless. Your competition is seconds away. Price is very important. Who can they call when there is a technical problem on your web site that prevents the customer from buying? Is your call center staffed 24/7 like Amazon.com and Chewy.com?
Door Three your call center which should be 24/7 if you have over 100 employees. Customers want answers fast. They like to pick up a phone and take to someone. RCI the largest time share management company in the world is not open on Sundays. I still cannot figure this one out. When do people look for personal vacations. Sunday or weekdays? Young people age 18-28 prefer to figure it out on their own. What about the rest of the population? Who owns time shares? Older or younger people?
Door 4 Online email support. In December I was trying to rent a car for 5 days for my trip to Vail. The phone number did not work for the car rental firm. The reservation was for the wrong city and state. When I looked at their email saying I abandoned my reservation I sent an email (No other way to communicate) The response was
Your question has been received. Your feedback, questions and concerns are important for us. We will contact you back within 7-10 business days for the future investigation. This is really stupid. I would be on my Christmas vacation in Vail snow skiing by then and I was making a decision in the next 24 hours. They should have said in the next 10-15 minutes. NO speed. In COVID I find few firms seem to want more business.
Most firms want to avoid interfacing with a customer. Many firms look at Amazon and say WOW no physical location and look at their growth. Look at the 4 Pillars of Amazon’s Success, According to CEO Jeff Bezos (constantcontact.com) to better understand why they are so successful.
My wife wanted me to call the firm we have used for years to get rid of mice in our house. They did not show up or return phone calls. I called them and left a message. At 10 am they were not answering the phone. The technician rarely shows up. I believe 80% of the time in the US employees lie. No service recovery. We have used them for years. They do not care. I called 5 firms for a rental property that has a huge mouse problem. (In Minnesota it is cold in December and January and mice like a warm area) Two firms responded. It took the first firm 5 days to call me back. They never sent me an email. The 2nd firm that called me back took 7 days to return the call. They never sent the confirming email until 2 days later. Most firms must have so much business and money they just do not need more. Crazy.
Frankly, I should have picked up the phone to call additional firms but they would probably be just as bad.
If you want to deliver exceptional customer service everyone in the company needs to be trained with something fresh and new every 4 months. Today the training happens every 5 -10 years or they just do nothing. Employee turnover is usually about 30%.annually. This means if you trained all your employees on customer service in 3 years almost everyone you trained will be gone. Do you really think you can put someone through a magic 7-hour program and they will be perfect for life?
Vail Resorts used to be a “10” on customer service. COVID-19 struck and today they are at most a “1”. Very sad. It took 4 days to reach them by phone. They would just hang up. The one time I got through I was on hold for over 60 minutes. I wasted my time because the employee would not make an empowered decision and used the magic word, NO.
When the economy disappeared because of COVID-19 everyone needs to improve their customer service and focus on keeping customers. Firms have reduced the number of employees and eliminated the focus on customer service. I guess most firms are happy with their present revenue.
United Airlines Excels at Lousy Customer Service Again
On December 12 a young couple with their 2-year-old were flying from Colorado to New York on United Airlines. The little girl would NOT wear her mask. If you have a family you might remember what a 2-year-old can be like. With the doors closed, United employees came up to them and kicked them off the plane. View here.
Over 7 million people have watched her emotional plea on Instagram. Most major TV networks carried it live. I suspect 50 million people heard about the incident.
Lessons to be Learned:
- Master empowerment with ALL employees. Train your staff on empowerment. Push employees. Send those who do not believe in empowerment to the competition. United has zero empowerment at any level.
- Train everyone on customer service. The problem with United Airlines is no one really believes in customer service. This includes the CEO. Lots of BS (baloney)
- Understand that word of mouth is how you grow or die. United it appears with COVID doesn’t care and wants to put some more nails in their coffin. If they wanted to reach 50 million people with an ad campaign how much would it cost?
- Eliminate stupid rules and policies. United is a very rule-driven airline. Most employees worship rules and policies. No one gets fired for following company policies. Most firms like United Airlines feel there are hundreds of millions of customers. If you lose a few million today no big deal. They know advertising is free. When your business is off 80% this is rather stupid.
- Southwest Airlines and Delta are customer-driven airlines. Everyone understands the power of great service. United Airlines has to compete only on price.