If you are a business owner, why are you in business? If you answered to make money or because you have an amazing product or service to offer the world, then you are not in business. The second part of that question is what is the purpose of your business? If you answered to sell a product or service, you would be wrong again. Write this down and put it where you will see it every day: I AM IN THE BUSINESS OF GETTING CUSTOMERS. The purpose of your business is to turn those customers into customers for life who refer their family, friends, coworkers, etc. to your business. Running a business is hard work. But staying in business might not be as hard as you think. It may simply come down to providing quality customer service rather than just good customer service.
If you are offering quality customer service, you are already offering good customer service but at a higher level. Quality customer service must also be relevant to your business. If you own a bakery, for example, and offer to check the air in my tires each time I come in for coffee and a doughnut, that is not quality customer service. If my coffee is hot and my doughnut was baked this morning, that is good customer service. Quality customer service is having freshly brewed coffee, knowing how I (a regular customer) take my coffee, and offering a doughnut that is fresh and hot just out of the cooker.
As a consumer, I have been reminded a few times recently of what it means to offer quality customer service. Without mentioning any brands, I will share one experience with you. Recently, the handle broke off one of my pots. It happened to be the pot I used most often due to its convenient size. The pot is part of a collection I purchased several years ago and came with a lifetime warranty. Not long ago, the handles broke off two of the lids. I contacted the company, and they immediately sent me two new lids. I expected the same quality customer service regarding the pot. I contacted customer service by email and received a response asking for photos of the broken pot. I sent the photos as requested. I then received a response asking me to return the pot for inspection to verify that the pot had not been damaged due to “misuse or abuse.” I felt like I was being accused of pot negligence. The email included instructions (6 steps) to follow including where to return the pot. I was told to include my shipping information should they determine that I had not misused or abused the pot and did, indeed, deserve a new pot.
I replied that while I am quite certain the pot had only been used for the purpose for which it was intended and had suffered no abuse, sending the pot back was too time consuming and expensive for one broken pot. Besides, given the history with the handles on this collection it would probably only be a matter of time before the same thing happened to the other pots in the collection. I went on to state that I would relieve the company of the burden of customer satisfaction and would simply purchase a different pot.
Almost immediately, I received two emails. One email informed me that I would be receiving a “courtesy prepaid” FedEx shipping label that would be valid for two weeks. The other email included the shipping label. Good customer service would have been to send the “courtesy” shipping label after the first email. Quality customer service would have been to simply replace the pot. It’s not like I was asking to have an expensive electronic device replaced.
I still haven’t decided if I’m going to return the pot. After all, I still have to find a box and pack it securely to avoid any possible damage in shipping. Then I have to transport it to a FedEx shipping center.
My point here is that unless you have the only “pot” on the market you had better offer quality customer service, because somewhere out there is a newer and better “pot.”
What do you think? Should I return the pot or just buy another one?
Feel free to share an example of how you have experienced or provided quality customer service.