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Forget the monkeys. Get me the organ grinder!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Interesting week...

The last week has been rather an interesting one for me, as I've spend a lot of time thinking about, writing about, experiencing, and engaging with others on the subject of customer service. It all started back here, with a brief blog (I briefly restrained myself from ranting) about how some sectors of industry seem so much better than others when it comes to great customer service.

That first article was inspired by a rather poor performance by my telecoms provider. I'd gone through the normal channels, suffered the normal indignities and frustrations, and come out none the wiser, with nothing resolved. I decided, splitting industries into "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly", that telecoms fell into the latter category as a whole industry, and this sparked off a great debate - please do take a look; it's worth reading what others wrote more than what I wrote!

One correspondent challenged me. He said (admittedly my interpretation) that I pretty much deserved what I got, as I'd gone for a low-cost provider. I countered with a belief that low cost does not necessarily have to lead to poor service, and this led to another article...

From my elevated position on my high horse, when I saw an 'error' on a flight booking I made with a low-cost carrier, I decided not to call the premium rate line, but to email them. As they didn't publish an email address, I did a little research and emailed the CEO, the Operations Director, the Managing Director and (simply for good measure!) the Finance Director. Within a few hours, apologies were made, conversations were had, and issues were resolved.

See here for the full story.

I was inspired...

Inspired by my success, and how easy and civilised problem solving can be (and indeed should be when you're a good customer), I decided to "have a go" - not in a violent sense - at my telecoms provider. Again, a little research and I emailed the CEO and the chairman. Within less than 5 hours, on her personal time and from an iPad (I'm guessing/hoping that, like me, she was sitting on a sofa with a glass of wine at the time...I'm a CEO too, although of an infinitely smaller business!), I had a response apologising and promising to get things sorted.

One problem with this is that I actually feel a bit guilty - wasting the time of these important people with my problems. But I also think that, hang on a minute, I (and others like me) pay their salary/bonuses and so on, and so we should have a right to get in touch with them. After all, I would never dream of not "allowing" one of my clients to complain to me...not that they ever would need to, obviously...!

So, a couple of thoughts from a really unusual customer service week:

...and finally...

One of my clearest memories from my time at P&G was one of my CEO's statements about what we should all be doing. He was A. G. Lafley, and he said that we should all be working on "winning at the two moments of truth". These were:

(1) when the customer was in the shop, do they choose your product; and
(2) when using your product, do they want to buy again.

Everything everyone did should be focused around one or both of those, and therefore the customer was at the very centre of strategy.

Worth bearing in mind next time you're doing any work, on anything, at all...

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