I find myself as a consumer, from time to time, feeling like I need to work hard to keep the clerk checking me out, waiter, or any other customer facing agent happy while I am dealing with them to get what I am paying for and with a smile. It seems to me over the last ten years that customer service has evolved from being about the customer and moved to being about the customer service agent. How many times have you had to return something, called for technical support or even just wanted a good experience at a restaurant, without worries if some waiter has spit in your food. As a result of this, I have spent a lot of time looking at mangers and how they deal with situations. And aside from the anomaly that happens with just a plain old bad employee, I typically see that the customer facing agents reflects the manager. And even more insulting to a customer is when you know you are being put on the hot seat already, then the manager comes over and plays good cop bad cop with the person who is frustrating you in the first place.
So, customer loyalty. Is it still there, or are there just so many options for customers that customers themselves, customer service agents and even managers could care less about the customer experience, retention and loyalty. Recently I went to The Men’s Warehouse, here in Utah. They are a national chain, so I have used them for years. Even in emergency situations I have been able to find a local store and pick up what I need. The convenience of the locations is a great asset for me. The products themselves are of a higher quality than most stores I frequent. Not that I buy fancy clothes, but when it comes to suits and other work cloths that I need, I want something that will hold up well, look nice and can handle traveling. This store has done this for me over the years.
So back to The Men’s Warehouse. I have been to this location many times over the years. Some before I moved out of state and others since I have moved back. Quality. That is why I go back. Over the last three years, I have entered the store with jeans or shorts and a t-shirt. It never fails, it takes about 10-15 minutes for anyone to talk to me. They avoid me and act so busy. It isn't until they ask out of requirement or if I ask them, will they approach me, but it is always with a since of "why me, why this poor guy". Honestly, if you do not spend $400 or more in that store, you are bothering the staff.
So as I spent over $400 there recently, I was in my jeans and t-shirt. The smiles began to get bigger and bigger the more I spent. “Can I get you anything else, no that will cost you this, cha ching”! So I deal with the people here because I like the product. But this last time, the customer service was overwhelmingly bad. It seemed like I had to bend over backwards to get this person to help, then to act grateful, then to even say thank you. On top of that, I had received an extra discount, so I decided to purchase an extra pair of jeans. I was short $1.00 on these $99.00 jeans to get the discount. You needed to spend $100, and I was only spending $99. I had just spent over $400, but being short the extra $1.00 was not going to fly with this guy. "You can by something else to get over the $100". Wow, really!
So after I left, without the jeans. I was not giving in on that $1.00. Being a customer service person myself, I called the corporate customer service number. Nice lady answered, listened, and did everything right. Promised to call and get back with me on a solution. She was very sorry for the attitude and the lack of customer understanding. I hung up feeling as though I would hear back, and that I might be able to get those jeans without that extra dollar, or at least help this store understand customer service better. Remember it was a dollar compared to the hundreds I had just spent. So I hung up, got busy in life and kept moving.
Today, almost three months later, I received a flier from this store in the mail. "Come in and save, buy some new cloths". Then it clicked, they never called me back. They never followed back up as they promised. They stopped caring. So I called back. They looked up my info and yep, found the case. No resolve. In fact, I had to spend a few minutes recalling the incident for the agent. That was painful. They did not even care enough to write the entire thing down the first time. So after 15 minutes or so of being put on hold, then recalling for her the info, back on hold, recalling, etc...I was finally transferred to the store manager from where the issue had occurred. Wow, good for me? No way, that agent just blew me off again, sent me to the one place I did not even want to go back to and dropped me on a manager that I just knew would do nothing, would say the right things, but remember, if your staff acts one way, they reflect you! So after a few minutes of talking, he then proceeded to ask me, what can we do to make it better? What can we do to keep you as a customer? What will it take?
If I truly answered this man's question. If he really wanted to know what it would take, and the way he was asking, sounded like it was up to me, then I wanted $10,000 worth of clothes for my trouble and a smile from the manager, an apology from the customer service agent and the clerk that helped me that day. I mean really, why do these people ask this question? Why do they bother? You are angry, frustrated, feeling like they don't care and they ask you what you want to do. Are they not the expert? Are they going to give me what I ask for? No they will not give you what you ask for. They are an expert though. You can be sure of that. They are so expert that they ask you, put it back on you, then, you will under deliver for yourself, feel bad that you even called and leave them alone. The result, the manager has done his job. Made you feel guilty, had you walk away with nothing to show for it, and taught you that you, the customer, have no right questioning their authority. They are the expert.
So I read an article today called "8 Things That Drive Customers to Your Competitors". Great article and a great list. I reference the list here. I really enjoyed some of these. Such as number four, and five. Fit right in my path just today. And the funny thing is this. That manager wants to call me back and find a way to make it right. Nothing in that store costs less than $100. I guarantee you he will offer me a $50 gift card. Why, so I will have an experience with number 7, pushed to buy something else. Because, hey, when you are the customer, if you want to be satisfied after a horrible customer service experience, you better buy more!
8 Things That Drive Customers to Your Competitors:
1. It takes too long to resolve an issue.
2. Promises that aren’t kept (over promising, under delivering).
3. Being treated rudely or with suspicion.
4. Being transferred over and over from person to person, and having to repeat the issue each time.
5. Having to check several times to see if an issue is resolved.
6. Being left in the dark, in “support limbo,” not knowing what, if anything, has been done to resolve the issue.
7. Being pushed to buy something—even before a support issue is resolved.
8. Finding the FAQ (and support center information) unhelpful, incomplete, or outdated.