To Get Stuck on the Naughty List:
Specialize in the run-around. Doing business with a company should be a choice, not a chore. But unfortunately, many companies make receiving service very difficult for their customers.
Companies on the naughty list aren’t streamlined. Customers have to give the same information to one person after another as they’re passed from department to department seeking help. Departments are so siloed that customers can feel like they aren’t even talking to people who work at the same company.
Treat customers like a number. Have you ever been to a business, office, or other facility where you had to literally take a number and wait for it to show up on the electronic sign before receiving service? It doesn’t feel so great, does it? That’s how customers feel when you don’t bother to get to know them as individuals.
When you don’t personalize service by taking the time to learn your customers’ names or implementing systems that remember their needs, you make customers feel like they’re just one of many. There’s no bond, nothing to make them feel any loyalty to you. Make one mistake and they will immediately go somewhere else.
Exhibit a “the customer’s always wrong” mentality. If turning unhappy customers into loyal customers is what lands companies on the nice list, then the quickest way to land on the naughty list is to treat complaining customers like they’re ruining your day. This can mean anything from blame shifting to “punishing” an unhappy customer by making the interaction even less pleasant than it already is.
Companies that don’t have a solid service recovery program react to complaining customers by seeking to avoid blame. Employees point the finger at their colleagues or back at the customers themselves and say, “It’s not my fault!” They’re too focused on passing the buck to even take notice of the customers’ real needs. And to make it even worse, these companies tend to bog down customers even more by requiring a morass of receipts and time-consuming paperwork before they receive even a mediocre level of service.
Put unhappy, clock-watching employees in front of customers. Naughty companies hire employees who are interested only in working for a wage, and it shows.
For these companies, service with a smile is a pipe dream. More like service with a grimace! You know you’re at a naughty company when a service representative won’t look you in the eye, has no energy to smile, and treats you like the service they provide is a chore. You might leave having received the product or service you need, but you won’t leave feeling uplifted or wanting to return.
Put the bottom line on a pedestal. Some companies on the naughty list treat customers like a number; others treat customers like a dollar sign.
Companies that put the bottom line on a pedestal above their customers can make customers feel like they’re being tricked or swindled. They offer deals that aren’t backed by great service. Or run ads touting low-cost products that don’t offer real satisfaction. Customers end up feeling as mercenary as the companies they buy from. Both parties may have completed a deal, but neither was uplifted by any lasting value.
Which list are you on?
What companies should be asking themselves now is, How can we make sure we’re on our customers’ nice lists? There’s no better time of the year to assess your company’s service culture. What are your customers experiencing today? What will they expect from you tomorrow? Are you ahead of your competitors, or lagging behind?
When you commit to creating an uplifting service culture where everyone is fully engaged, encouraging each other, improving the customer experience, making the company more successful, and contributing to the community at large, you’ll spend every holiday season on your customers’ nice lists. And you will reap the benefits year-round.