Customers: The Personal Touch?

Ever feel like in today’s society certain people can’t be bothered to keep in contact and understand your perspective? Lately I’ve had a couple of purchases that made me think that even in this internet driven world, you still need that person to person care and attention if you want someone to continue to use your services beyond a one time deal.

The latest instance would be a purchase I made from a personal development website where they were running a special on a DVD collection that piqued my interest. I love the written material from both of these authors, and to get the rare chance for viewing some of their classic seminar presentations for probably a third of the price they are really worth made me get online immediately to buy the package. Two days later I received conformation that my order had been processed and my credit card charged.

And then I waited… and waited… and waited. The order would be coming from Texas. No email stating the package was on its way. No detail as to what method of shipping would be taking place (because I live in an apartment complex, there are times packages are dropped off at the office, especially UPS and FedEx). I went to the office a couple of times in the second week after the order had been paid for, only to find no package.

So I went onto my bank account online to see if there was a number I could call for the company, and I did. I gave the woman the information as to when I placed my order, when the money was taken out, my name and address, and what exactly was going on.

The problem? One of the three titles was on back order, so they didn’t send out the other two DVD’s until that day- almost 14 days after the order. The better solution? If you know something is back ordered- tell the customer. I ordered the DVD’s through email- you have my email address on the order- send me an email letting me know this and also telling me approximately when my order will be shipped out. I realize the transaction may be small to them (under $100), but to me it’s very frustrating not knowing when I will receive an order from one part of the country to the other.

I’m not unreasonable. The previous time I ordered from this company I received my order within 4 days, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But if you are in the service business and problems arise that may affect the processing of a job or order- keep the customer informed. Immediately if possible. The more information you provide, the better the customer feels that they are respected and appreciated.

I had a great discussion with one of my bowling teammates who runs his own machine shop parts business. He agreed that you need to keep customers in the loop- especially if they want things changed from time to time. Negotiating is a give and take process- but these days customers will be very happy to bring their business elsewhere if they believe they aren’t getting fair treatment or a fair price for the goods and services you offer.

So if you want to stand out as an entrepreneur – go the extra yard or mile for your customers. I know that networking expert Harvey MacKay would fly 3,000-4,000 miles for a 60 second face to face meeting if he knew that it was that important to get the business and keep a customer for life. While big business may only care about numbers, the smaller business needs to focus on that personal touch if they want to stay alive for a lifetime.

Let me know about some of your best (and worst) customer service experiences- I appreciate the dialogue and commentary and thank you for reading. And seek out Hug Your Customers, a great book by Jack Mitchell if you want to learn more about top shelf customer service.

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