Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Customer Service Patterns I

I've written a few times about customer service experiences, several great experiences (the "I Appreciate..." series), and one particularly bad one (the "Fighting Expedia" series). I've been thinking about what made the great ones great and the lousy one, well, lousy.

In the good experiences, the companies would do things they didn't have to do, while in the bad experience, the company went out of its way to avoid doing what it said it was going to do.

  • D'Addario could've said "here's your missing A string;" instead they sent me two new sets.
  • GSI Outdoors could've said "tough luck on the broken lid," instead they sent me a new lid for free.
  • KBC could've said "that'll be 15 bucks for the new plate," instead they sent me a new helmet plate for free.

In each of these cases I wouldn't have been disappointed with the companies if they did their minimum, because they were not obliged to do anything more than that. What made the experience great (and memorable) was that they did more than they had to.

Expedia, though, said "book this trip, and we'll send you a gift card." (They didn't have to offer the card.) But after we booked the travel, they made claiming the offer a frustratingly difficult and exasperating experience. (And memorable too, in its own way.)

Of course, with effort we can think of adequately satisfactory customer service experiences in which a company would do what it said it was going to do to resolve an issue. Satisfactory, if unremarkable.

The good companies did what they did not have to do.
The adequate companies did only what they had to do.
The lousy company resisted doing what it said it was going to do.

What have you noticed about good and bad customer service?

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