We are all customers. We are. So, I am not sure what happens from the time we leave our homes until we reach our respective workplaces. For some people they clearly forget what it is like to be a customer. For others, they don’t. And for the latter ones, we are most grateful. Today I want to look at one company and two very different experiences I had. One not so good and one fantastic. Both are learning experiences for others. So, good customer service is important and what you don’t know does hurt you, your corporate reputation and impacts the trust that your customers have.
Think Before You Act
Last week I received my monthly bill from my telephone and internet service provider. Immediately I noticed that the bill was significantly higher than normal. On top of that I had a late fee. As I looked closer it “appeared” that I only paid for part of my bill. I knew that was not the case. So, just to ensure I was not loosing my mind, I pulled out the previous bill. Sure enough, the amount showing as paid on my current bill was the total amount owing from the previous month. Now, I should note that when I received the previous bill I recall that it was lower than normal. Regardless, I paid the full amount owing and went on my merry way.
So, naturally I called the customer service department for my provider and relayed my story. I also asked why I was being charged a late fee when I paid my bill in full. The person on the phone was great. She was professional and helpful. I can’t take that from her. I could also hear that she was perplexed. She could see that I had done exactly as I had told her. She had to put me on hold to investigate further. Again, very professional and I take no issue with her performance. When she came back on the line, she informed me that the mobility part of the business had failed to get their billing information in on time and therefore, that part of the billing could not be included. Fair enough and I acknowledged that I did recall that the bill was lower than normal.
“My exception to this issue is that the company – “they”- failed to get their billing information in on time in order to be included in my monthly bill. I paid what I was billed – in full. So, why was I being charged a late fee for their failure to perform? “They” knew that they had failed, but yet “they” didn’t take that into account. I also realize that things are system generated, BUT and there is a BUT, I also know that they could have manually adjusted the bill if their system was not intelligent to recognize that the previous bill sent was paid in full.
Now, not everyone checks their bills as closely as I. Many would not have even noticed. It wasn’t even a lot of money. It was less than $10. It was the principle of the matter though. I should not have been charged and I should not have had to call. It is incidents like these quite frankly that cause me to check my bill carefully. Sadly this is not the first time that I have found errors in my bill. This naturally affects my trust.
Key Take away: Be sure to staff your contact centres with great people who get customer service AND ensure that if you make a mistake in billing that you don’t penalize your customers. Address before sending out your bill. This will help maintain trust rather than risk eroding the belief that you have the ability to accurately charge your customers.
Be a Great Listener
Now, let’s switch gears. This past week Tropical Storm Arthur decided to pay a visit. My little part of the world had never quite had a storm like this. It alone is a blog post. But the damage done was significant. I was without power, water and landline phone service for more than five days. I have never experienced this. When our power returned, all our other services immediately worked too, except our landline. After about 12 hours of the phone not working, I did a Tweet to our local news radio asking if they heard anything about restoration of telephone services. A follower @mentioned, Bell Aliant my provider, and within a few hours they jumped into the conversation asking me to Direct Message (DM) them with the details. Turns out it was an issue with my phone and they could do a reset from their office. Thankfully it was a quick fix and we were back in service.
“And, they checked back with me via Twitter to make sure that everything was good. I appreciated that and I appreciated that they were actually listening. In my opinion not enough companies do this so. They also offered a quick survey to review and rate their Twitter Customer Service. This is GREAT customer service. Well done!
Key Take Away: Be a great listener. Be sure to leverage and use social media properly so that you can hear conversations about your brand and jump in when appropriate. Many customers, like me, live on social media. And, “sometimes” it is easier and faster to get results. Be sure to follow up with your customer to ensure that the issue is resolved and then ask for feedback. You can’t improve if you don’t know how you are really performing.
Like this post? Feel free to follow me on Twitter.