Customer Service

Insulting customer service and an embarrassing missed opportunity

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Do you watch movies?

I do – and lots of them too. I find movies a good way to give my brain a few hours rest from the reality of life. Sad, I know.

To feed my habit I subscribed to Love Film by post, which is a pretty good service. For just £14.99 a month you get to have three movies out at any time – and as soon as you post them back, you get three more sent to you. I watched 9 films in one week before!

But sadly, and like so many businesses, their good service disappears when you try to cancel.

That’s because you can’t cancel if you have their movies in your possession. But every time I sent them back, they posted me more! And that’s despite me twice confirming my cancellation by telephone.

So I did exactly what you would do. Out of share frustration I cancelled my direct debit payment in the vain hope that would stop them.

But no. Those efficient people at Love Film just kept on posting.

Then I got an email. It confirmed I’d not paid and my subscription was cancelled. But it also confirmed I had three of their movies. They were correct, I did.

At this point, here’s what a smart business would do.

They would ask me some questions that might help them in the future. Maybe:

  • “Why am I leaving?” or;
  • “What did I value about their service?”, maybe even;
  • “Did I find their service convenient?”.

They could have used this opportunity to try to change my mind. An offer or incentive mayAn offer be?

Sadly not. In fact this is what they said:

  • Please note should the discs still be outstanding after that point we will have no option but to pass your details onto our debt collecting agency (CreditLink Accounts Recovery Solutions) for the recovery process.

In case you’re wondering if you read that correctly, you did. They actually threatened me with a debt collection service if I didn’t send my movies back!

That is not just insulting to me – it is shameful on them.

So I sent their movies’ back.

And will never use their service again.


Put this much thought into your customer service, and you won’t go far wrong

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In my experience customer service is the most ignored aspect of the marketing mix.

Businesses seem to spend so much time and money promoting their brands they forget to consider how it is actually delivered – and the experience the customer gets.

This mistake can kill a brand stone dead.

Have you ever bought anything and suffered the misery of having it delivered? If your experience has been anything like mine, you’ll know the service is usually lousy.

You have to waste the best part of a whole day waiting around for your items, as usually the best delivery estimate is somewhere between “9am – 6pm”

But not so at delivery service DPD – who’s service and use of technology I just had the pleasure of experiencing.

Here’s the story:

Late on Saturday night my wife bought some overpriced boots from UGG Australia via their website. We had actually spent the day visiting their stores in London but none had her size.

Anyway, after we paid online we were told the items would be with us within 5 working days.

Then Monday we got a text message from DPD, the distribution firm UGG use. It said the items would be with us on 22nd which was just 3 working days. Not a bad start.

The text message also gave these three helpful options:

1, I could text back the number 1, which meant deliver next door, as I’m out that day.
2, I could text back the number 2 for a Thursday delivery, or the number 3 for a Friday delivery.
3, Or visit their website (link provided) to rearrange

All helpful stuff.

But here’s where it got brilliant.

Because on the delivery day, I got another text message. It told me the delivery driver’s name was Lee and he would be with me between 11.53 and 12.53.

And it had a link to a real-time map that showed the locations of Lee and my house. It also showed how many more deliveries Lee had before getting to my house. At the time I looked, Lee was just delivering order 26. Mine was number 62.

It looked a bit like Google maps.

Wow – I could actually watch my delivery making its way to my house by Lee the delivery man.

And as promised, the overpriced boots arrived on time and on the correct day. And Lee was a friendly bloke too.

I take my hat off to DPD. The service it fantastic. Which also helps UGG too, as it reflects on their overall brand image.

A great example of how not to convert a hot lead into a sale

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Last week I was doing some research for an online training tool I’m developing. I contacted a company that have a very similar product to the one I want – in fact I’m pretty much stealing their idea.

They were very courteous and generous with their information and gave me the contact details of the company that built their tool.

As most folk do these days, the first thing I did was visit their website for more background information. And the website was pretty good as it happens. In fact within about 3 clicks I got the name and number of their Marketing Manager, and on top of that, it also had a big photo of her smiley face too. Next to her face were the words “If you would like to talk to me for a free and no obligation quote please give me a call.

And this is where it all went wrong!

As when I telephoned the Marketing Manager two things happened:

1. Firstly she said to me that nobody at her firm was called the name I’d asked for. After about 30 seconds of confusion I realised something. She was being incredibly sarcastic as I’d pronounced her surname slightly wrong. In my defence she has an unusual surname.

2. To add insult to injury the second thing she did was truly amazing. As she demanded, in a very aggressive tone, that I explain “What on earth I wanted from her as she was busy and where I’d got her details from”. I responded, politely, that I was inquiring to see if she was interested in building me a training tool for my £20k budget. And I quickly followed that up with “But I am no longer interested in talking with you”. I then put the phone down.

If you are in the business of selling things, and most businesses are in one way or another, I suggest you get polite and helpful people to answer your telephone. Not rude ones that lose you sales – and in this case that sale was £20k.

Also, don’t employ people that are so full of their own importance that a conversation with them almost makes you vomit.

Unfortunately such people are common in marketing roles.

Rant over.

Mick Jagger couldn’t get it. But this might help you give it. Free literature review of satisfaction in the legal market.

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Good, if not great, customer service is as the very heart of marketing. There has been tons of academic writing on the subject and one of the leaders in this area is Professor Sally Dibb of the Open University.

In simple terms, if your customer service exceeds customer expectations (which will be based on your marketing mix and communications) you’ll push people up the loyalty ladder so they become ‘advocates’.

The reason for wanting advocates is simple. They move past being repeat purchasers of your service (which is pretty good anyway) to becoming insistent on only buying from you – therefore making you more money!  And if that wasn’t enough, they also become walking advertisements for you too – telling anyone that will listen just how good you are and why they should buy from you too.

Want proof of advocate power? Just think about the people you know who buy Apple iphones. The only thing they do more than talk about them is play with them.

On the other end of this spectrum is my father-in-law who will only go into pubs in Nottingham that sell Castle Rock beer brands. Castle Rock, by the way, is a fantastic example of great marketing. The pub market seems to have been shrinking by the day as our nation seems to prefer getting drunk at home with half price bottles of wine from Tesco than going down the pub.

However Castle Rock, a Nottingham based micro brewery and small pub chain, has developed a real niche and reputation for quality real ales (award winning I think), great quality grub and traditionally decorated pubs that attract nice folk. They are by no means the cheapest pubs around but their business seems to be booming.

I’m sure you could analyse their offering with Porters Three Routes to market, as their model seems to be based on focus and differentiation – but I might be wrong.

Anyhow, I am currently talking to a research consultancy about a project for Flint Bishop which I think would increase customer satisfaction and build on our differentiation.   The consultancy, called Customer Plus, recently sent me a helpful literature review of client satisfaction in the legal sector which is a short and interesting read.

Download free literature review of client satisfaction in the legal sector.

PS: A word of warning on customer service. Always remember that no matter how many polished marketing communications messages you give, just one bad experience will undo the lot. Period.

PPS: If you want to find any gaps in your customer service perception and the reality of the actual experience you deliver, SERVQUAL is a good start.

Buy 0, get 2 free…Now that’s great customer service

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As most marketing folk know, good customer service is as the very heart of marketing. Even if your actual product is fantastic, if you deliver it in a shoddy manner without much thought for the customer service experience, you’re far less likely to have loyal customers spreading the word about how great you are – which is surely the holy grail of successful business.

A man who clearly understood this concept was Julius Rosenwold, the driving force behind Sears (official name Sears, Roebuck and Co) becoming the worlds largest retailer, who once said: “My ambition is to stand at both sides of the counter at once.”

Another firm who also understand this appears to be Tesco. On Tuesday this week I bought some toothpaste from my local store. The rational for my brand choice was simple: it was buy-one-get-one-free!

However when I checked my receipt on the way out (I had brought some other items too) I realised I had been charged full price for both items. As soon as I complained about this to the very friendly customer services lady, she apologised and said that when such mistakes happen with Tesco’s price scanning technology, both items are free!

To coin a well used strap line, every little helps – and it certainly did in this situation. Tesco, I doth my virtual cap to your customer service!