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The power of great customer service

I’m a sticker for customer service – good, memorable customer service. I am a firm believer that there’s no other kind.

I’m not exactly sure when this quest for perfection began, but I’m assuming it has a lot to do with every job I’ve ever had being in the customer service industry in some fashion.

I started working at age 12, when I was a newspaper carrier for the Asbury Park Press. Judging by all the people who reach out to me whenever their Chicago Tribune lands in a puddle or in a bush, customer service in this specific space is really important. I didn’t need to work at a newspaper back then to realize this. I remember how much I cared about the work I did. I remember putting the paper neatly on the doorstep and under the mat when it was raining. I remember paying attention to special requests from customers if they left me notes in the mailbox.

Fast forward all these years and every job I’ve had since graduating from college has been at a newspaper. And that drive I had as a carrier never went away. Today, I needed two oversized envelopes because two people who finished the Chicago Marathon and live out of state wanted a paper for their collection. We didn’t have ones that fit, so I went across the street to Walgreens and purchased them.

I like to believe anyone would have done that, whether here or anywhere. So when I can’t get good service, it just boggles my mind.

So here’s what prompted this post

Customer service should never make the customer yell “D’OH!”

Without going into any details that would identify a company or person, I had the need to contact a business regarding a review posted to a website. The question was actually quite simple. In a nutshell, I submitted a review a while back that is in need of updating because it’s no longer accurate. How do I either edit or replace the current review and replace it with the new one? This is the kind of thing that’s so simple it shouldn’t even require customer service help, but it does.

So I sent an email to the address on the site and was impressed to have received a response about an hour later. On a Sunday, no less. But sadly, I had little reason to get excited because the response clearly showed that the person who responded didn’t read my email.

Paraphrasing, but I received the following: Oh, all you have to do to leave a review is go to our website and click on write review and you’re done.

My thought was to respond with “DUH! I KNOW THAT!” but that’s just not my style.

I sent a really nice note back and explained that I already knew that. And then I explained the problem again in a more succinct manner.

The response I got back at least indicated some level of comprehension, but it was a giant run-on sentence that spanned two paragraphs. It was full of grammar and spelling errors. And most importantly, it suggested a fix that isn’t even an option.

With apologies to 12-year-old texters, it looked like a 12-year-old’s text message.

I wrote back, thanked the person – must have been a different person – and explained that the option they suggest is unavailable.

And then I heard nothing more. So this morning, I wrote again to ask if there’s an answer to my question. No word yet, but I’m hopeful something is forthcoming.

As I stated earlier, this isn’t even something that should require customer service intervention, but it does. And it certainly should not require multiple emails to fix. But apparently it does.

It’s just like when you have a problem with the cable company. Most of us would rather have a root canal or spend the day at the DMV with a dead cell phone than deal with cable customer service. You know I’m right, and it’s sad. I shouldn’t be right about this. I’ve never understood how companies can feel at ease providing anything less than a stellar experience.

This is why whether you are a one-person business or one that employees tens of thousands, there is no substitute for good, memorable customer service. And it’s so true, because once this problem finally gets settled I’m going to want to go somewhere else because of sheer exhaustion. And if you can’t get a positive outcome on something so simple, what’s going to happen when something really big happens and you need help? Can you ever trust a place like this? I can’t.

So please … if you own a business, think long and hard about how you want to be remembered by your customers. A positive experience goes such a long way. And if you are a customer who is putting up with this, don’t. Just refused to accept anything that’s not the way you want it to be. You have that right.

About Scott Kleinberg

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