This post was inspired by my recent unhappy experience with a company that sells satellite internet; I’ll call them Baby Blue. So this post is partially a rant. But this unhappy experience has spurred my thoughts on ways to improve service to my customers so I do have a relevant point.
I am trying to buy satellite internet service from Baby Blue. This would be an ongoing service with a minimum one year contract. In my opinion, Baby Blue should be doing everything it can to “woo” me, to make me fall in love with them. I think Baby Blue should at least act like they are happy I decided to do business with them. But in actuality, Baby Blue is acting like I’m a problem.
Tuesday morning I’m all excited, anticipating the installation of internet at my house. I live out of range of DSL or cable. I’ve always had to drive to town for internet access. I’m excited about the thrill of surprising my daughter when she comes home from her summer with her dad. My mind is teeming with happy exciting pictures, all focused around the installation of internet at my house. I’m telling my friends and family how excited I am. But then, the technician can’t make it to the installation appointment. He calls at 11:30am after I’ve waited 3 1/2 hours and says he can’t make it for another 4 or 5 hours. Ok, he lets me know he will be late, but from there, it is my problem to solve. The technician can’t reschedule the appointment for another day because he doesn’t know the schedule. Dispatch can’t reschedule the appointment, because they don’t know the schedule (and can’t find my order). I’m given another phone number. When I call that “customer service” phone line I get a confusing voice mail tree. Nowhere in the voice mail options am I given the choice of rescheduling. Am I a new or existing customer? Is this Service, Technical or Other? When I do talk to someone, I’m treated with an attitude that I am being difficult because I don’t want to spend weeks waiting for the installation. There is no acknowledgement of my disappointment. All my happy excited pictures are flying fast out the window. “I’m sorry but I can’t help you. ” was repeated about 5 times by the lady I was speaking with. I am totally NOT feeling the love. So I finally say “Ok, I’ve got it, you can’t help me, never mind.” I decide I will blow the rest of the day waiting for the technician to do the install when he can finally make it to my house. I call him back and tell him I will be waiting. Except that he NEVER COMES. He called me again at 6:30pm to say it just isn’t going to work. Does he offer a solution? No. Does the company call me to reschedule? No. Does anyone at this company care if I get internet? By their actions, No.
I called this morning to reschedule. The operator informed me that the notes indicate that I cancelled the installation. In the middle of our call, the sound stops - I can hear her, she can’t hear me. I have to call AGAIN. After I reschedule the installation, (which I’m now NOT excited about, there are NO HAPPY PICTURES) I tell the operator that I think Baby Blue has a horrible customer service model. The operator says she will note that I am unhappy with the installer. I told her no, I’m not unhappy with the installer, I’m unhappy with the entire company and the way they are treating me as a potential customer. I guess the long delay between yesterday and new install date will give me time to find an alternate internet provider.
It is important to note that no one in this entire chain of contact was rude to me.
That is my service revelation. You can be polite and still not be helpful. You can follow the letter of “customer service” protocol and still leave a bad taste in the mouth of the customer. What makes a truly amazing customer service experience is CARING. It is understanding that our customers have happy pictures in their minds too. In truly caring for the customer, we are acknowledging their happy pictures. We don’t have a copy of their exact pictures are but if you listen carefully -most people at least hint at them. We may not be able to fulfill those happy pictures; think airline flights cancelled because of weather. But if we treat the customers as PEOPLE with HAPPY PICTURES, we can show compassion, we can at least acknowledge that the picture is now broken, THEN we can move on to patch up the picture as best we can.
As a customer – I’m not unrealistic. I know there are many uncontrollable or unpredictable things that can affect an outcome. I know I’m only one of thousands of customers. I get that. But when the individuals of a company genuinely care and let me know in a nice way that my broken happy picture can be fixed, I fall in love with that company. And when I love a company, I am willing to forgive the occasional broken picture.