How to Get Great Customer Service
I was gifted a Consumer Reports subscription for the holidays and was pleased to see the front cover promoted an inside article, “Secrets to Great Customer Service: Social Media, AI. Big Data, What to know to get results, fast!”
I learned early in my career that “Customers Are King” and I wrote books to show companies how to earn customer loyalty and keep it.
So I dug in to the CR article and learned some helpful tips on “How to Complain Well and Get Results.”
We’ve all been there. Companies give us the runaround on a billing problem or product performance. And we all want our complaints taken seriously and solved quickly.
Such was the case of Bob Solomon, profiled by CR, who was excited about the queen-sized bed he had ordered from Amazon. He had moved out his old mattress and box springs and even waxed his parquet floor in anticipation of the arrival. Bob, a retired professor from the Alberta providence of Canada was also a CR subscriber.
On the day the bed was scheduled for delivery, it was sitting on a neighbor’s front porch about a block away. The distraught buyer could see it from his house. Too heavy to lift and too bulky to fit in his car, Bob called the shipper, Purolator, who argued that the GPS coordinates were correct and the box was where it should be. (I’m feeling the frustration burn just writing this!)
The shipper insisted on a mandatory warehouse search, much to Bob’s chagrin. “I felt so frustrated and ignored and mistreated that I cancelled the order even though I really wanted the bed.”(Purolator told CR it regrets the error and is reviewing it’s internal procedures to prevent future mishaps.)
Amazon came to Bob’s rescue: The company delivered a new bed that the professor was sleeping on two nights later and Amazon extended Bob’s Prime Membership.
Sometimes you have to get creative to solve your customer service issue. Here are a couple of ways I did that recently:
I sell my books through Amazon Advantage. This system can be tricky at times but I have discovered that help ultimately comes by sending Jeff Bezos an email. Yes, that’s right. Contact the Big Man, himself. (I got this tip from a friend that worked at Amazon for a couple of years.) Turns out, when you write Jeff@amazon.com there is a “gold mine” of problem solvers that respond for Mr. Bezos. I have been served by some of the most considerate customer service responders on the planet. One “Florence Nightingale” gave me her private cell phone number (because we were in different time zones) with the understanding I would not abuse its use. Of course, I honored her wish. There was a lot of red tape in changing my user name and password. In the process, she even discovered I have multiple Prime accounts and fixed that problem as well.
I’m a premium LinkedIn member which gives me access to sending direct messages to folks that are not in my constellation of contacts. (I am a book author and use this feature to reach out to would-be contributors.)
I was in the throes of trying to returning a discolored leather jacket and was told by front liners that all sales were final. Period. (More about front liners later.) I searched LinkedIn’s massive member data base and found a high-ranking company executive to help me. After sharing photos of the jacket’s discoloration, I received a full refund.
Here’s the lesson: World-class companies empower their front line with the power to solve problems on the spot. Sadly, many companies don’t trust their front line to do the right thing and I have real empathy for those folks that have their hands tied. That means we have to talk to a supervisor and then their supervisor. And that makes for unnecessary frustration.
Lessons I have Learned:
-Choose the companies you buy from carefully. If the deal is too good to be true, you are probably courting trouble. The Internet is full of dishonest people trying to scam you.
-When firms treat you well, write a YELP review that applauds their efforts.
-Always be kind to the front line, whether in person or a call center. Often their hands are tied and they are doing their jobs with the tools they have been given. Show them empathy. Many are seniors who really need these jobs.