Lessons Learned from Poor Customer Service

This article is inspired by a recent negative customer experience I had.

For Christmas my sister wanted an item that’s sold by a home based business. I was able to contact the seller through Facebook. I placed my order and was told she didn’t have the item in stock anymore and needed a couple of weeks to get another. She also informed me that she was too busy to keep track of orders so I would have to send her a reminder in a couple weeks.

A couple weeks later I messaged her again and she still didn’t have it in stock. One week later I messaged her again, this time she had the item. Great! I tried to arrange a time to meet with her but we couldn’t seem to find a time that worked. I found out that she lives close to my home so I thought it wouldn’t be an issue to pick up my order. Unfortunately, I ended up getting sick and wasn’t able to contact her for a week. When I did message her, she told me that she sold my item and had no more in inventory… Now, here’s the kicker – that item is no longer manufactured!

So, my sister selected another item from her store. Once again we struggled to coordinate pick up. Since she doesn’t live far away I suggested she drop it off to my home at her convenience, to which she replied ” I don’t offer home deliveries.” What?!?!… I am literally her neighbour.

After that I gave up. In the end I didn’t get the product, my sister doesn’t get the gift she wanted and the owner didn’t make a sale. Truly a lose-lose-lose situation.

Hidden within this story of poor customer service are a few valuable business lessons:  

  1. As a business owner it’s your responsibility to keep track of and follow up with potential customers. There is no such thing as being “too busy” when it comes to keeping track of your customers. If you’re too busy to run your business properly you’re going to fail. Instead there should be a system in place to make the job easier or hire help.
  2. It’s the job of the business to deliver on the promises that you make. She decided to sell an item that I thought was on hold for me. Whatever you promise to your customer,  it’s your job to deliver that without excuses. If you promise to email the client show photo’s, make sure you do it. If you promise to email that contact from the network event, do it. If you promise to include some close-up magic, do it. Doing this makes you a man of your word – which is a good personality trait to develop regardless of your occupation.
  3. Be clear in your communication. It turns out that the item wasn’t actually on hold for me like I had thought. This could have easily been resolved by her simply communicating that. In our business that translates to communicating the important details to the client. What type of show you’ll be doing, what your requirements are, what time you’ll be arriving to setup, etc. All of these things are so important that they should be repeated to your clients multiple times throughout the booking process.
  4. Make small concessions and deliver service that is above and beyond. Making an exception to deliver the item would have been a minimal amount of work and would have dramatically changed the course of the customer experience. They call it “work” for reason. That mean’s sometimes you’re going to have to do things that you don’t want to do. I wrote another article on this topic called: That’s Not a Problem – Dealing with Problems at Shows.

It’s easy to get caught up in our own work and forget what customer is experiencing. But as business owners, you should always be thinking “How can I create a positive customer experience?” If you perform at 300 events in a year, you’ll have 300 opportunities to create raving fans. In our business the best way to market our services is by creating happy customers.