We’ve all experienced bad customer service at one time or another. You know the kind – it makes your blood boil, leaves you feeling undervalued and ultimately leads to taking your business elsewhere.
Which is why bad service is always a hot topic in our office at Lumiserv. There is an upside to those rage inducing moments though, they provide shining examples of what not to do! Here are 5 times we had s*** customer service, and how we’d have done better.
1. The Culprit: Respond
What Happened: It’s worth noting that we love Buffer and their family of products at LumiHQ, not to mention their treasuretrove of a blog! However, when we received this email from their side venture, Respond, we were kind of pissed.
It wasn’t that the freemium plan was going, business grow, products change – that’s all part and parcel. What got us was, “changes effective as of today”? Cheers for the notice guys! Now, Buffer wrote a blog post on the reasons for ditching and we get it, to grow they needed to charge. But the lack of lead in time felt like we were being bent over a barrel. Pay up now, or lose out.
How we’d have done it better:
As it happens we recently underwent a restructure of our hosting. The old platform wasn’t living up to our performance standards and keeping it going wasn’t cost effective. We decided to retire all our budget plans, invest in a shiny new set up and have one single fully managed Business Class package. Just like Respond we gave an introductory offer to existing customers, but we also gave one month’s notice so they could consider the options.
The added benefit was it gave us time to send a handful of emails explaining the reasons for the change and all the awesome features that came with the price change. By giving our customers plenty of notice the uptake was much higher than we expected and any breakups were on good terms. Double win!
Moral of the story: Strong arming your customers, intentionally or accidentally, fosters ill will. Be open and transparent about what you’re doing and why – I suppose you could say we got this from Buffer 🙂
2. The Culprit: FedEx
What happened: The FedEx booking system is like a timeloop that it’s impossible to break.You can book collection for today or tomorrow. Want to book for the day after? Call back tomorrow. *Calls back tomorrow* Sorry, no slots are available for today or tomorrow. Please call back tomorrow.
How we’d have done it better: The obvious answer is use our super techy skills to build a booking platform that allows you to arrange your delivery further in advance. However there could be really legit reasons FedEx can only do today or tomorrow. So in lieu of a shiny system, explaining why things are the way they can go a long way.
Moral of the story: Avoid pinch points that cause your customer unnecessary frustration, but if they are unavoidable, address it. Remove barriers or at least install windows.
3. The Culprit: Argos
What happened: This one occurred before the 5p bag charges. It was all going so well – the item I wanted (a tower fan for that one time we had a summer) was in stock, same day collection too and when I got in store my number was called almost immediately. It was when I arrived at collection point B that things turned sour. I ‘received’ my package in a ridiculously shaped box with no handle, so I asked for a bag… but they had run out.
I was slightly peeved at this point, but these things happen. I lamented, ‘Oh no, how will I carry this home’ to which the surly assistant responded, ‘not my problem’. Then I lost it.
It wasn’t about the bag (OK, it was a bit about the bag, what kind of shop doesn’t have bags), it was that my issue was 100% their problem, they’d caused it. The assistant probably wasn’t solely responsible for all the Argos bags, but she was there as a representative, to assist me. Being a millennial I’d already paid for my item online by card, which meant I couldn’t just take my cash elsewhere where they had bags and polite staff. After ranting and raving about the lack of service I left, enraged by the injustice of it all, never to return again.
How we’d have done it better: We don’t need bags in the digital world, but addressing any assumptions about what’s included at the start can save a world of problems. I assumed they had bags, because they always had done in the past. A polite note on the website, that bags may or may not be provided would have done the trick. If there has been an oversight, say sorry and try to fix it. it’s on you for not making that clear in the first place. Our customer contracts have a section devoted to what’s included in the service, but also it sets out what’s not included, so no one has to be disappointed or embarrassed further down the line.
It’s also key to empower your team to do the right thing… and hire people that care in the first place!
Moral of the story: Your responsibility to your customer doesn’t end once you’ve gotten the money.
4. The Culprit: Get Me In
What happened: I bagged myself 2 tickets to Beyonce back in February but I was due to move house in June, just before the concert. Sods law, the delivery was scheduled the day of move. I went on the site to get contact details, I called but the number kept cutting out, I called the delivery company but they couldn’t help. Beyonce was getting closer and closer (figuratively, not literally), so I took to twitter in desperation. It spiralled further downhill, fast. If you are adverse to twitter trolls, look away:
Granted, there was a fair amount of sass on my behalf, but you have to remember at this point I’d already been given the run around the digital block.
How we’d have done it better: Hiding your contact methods in some hard to reach url that can only be unlocked if you go round in the same circle 3 times, is a sure fire way to annoy your customers. We sprinkle our contact info around like glitter. You’ll find it on our images, at the bottom of emails and all over our website. Once people know how to get hold of you, also make sure they know what they’ll get; if twitter is triage only make sure that’s clear.
Moral of the story: I don’t play when Beyonce is involved. Oh and clear customer contact information is super important!
The Culprit: ASOS
What happened: When it comes to e-tailers, ASOS is one of the biggest fish out there. Since its inception in 2000, it’s morphed into a fashion powerhouse with a super cool brand to boot. My first ever purchase was in back 2006 when it sold celeb-style garments, I bought a Lindsay Lohan style scarf. Fast forward 10 years and they’re still my favourite ecommerce store, but even they’ve failed before at customer service before! My holiday was coming up, so as is customary, I decided I hated every item of clothing I owned and placed a huge order… the week of that fateful fire.
My delivery date had been and gone with no visits from the postman, I reached out to them via facebook and got, ‘Hey Freya, that totally sucks. We’ll get on it for you’. Usually, I loved the cool casual demeanour the brand exuded over social media, but here I was a few days before my holiday, clothless. The nonchalance really ground my gears.
Needless to say, when the purchases arrived it was two weeks after my holiday, I sent them all back. Given the extenuating circumstances and the fact we’re basically married in common law, I’ve forgiven ASOS and gone on to have many happy orders together.
How we’d have done it better: We love a human brand voice; who wants to speak to a corporate robot? But it’s easy to typecast your customer, you have your customer personas, you’ve built a brand around the stats, and reports show it’s working. Not everyone will respond well to a casual and cool tone. We respond to our customers on a case by case basis, the voice of our brand is a real human.
Moral of the story: If your customer has a problem, it’s likely they’re already low key pissed off. Choosing your words wisely can help put out the fire rather than fan the flames.
So there you have it
Small changes can make a big difference to your customer’s experience. Delivering an awesome service can be as simple as thinking, ‘what would I want?’. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes at every given opportunity, it will help you to iron out the kinks and smooth the edges of your service. What are your pet customer service peeves? Do you have any top tips for providing great customer service?
Originally written for lumiserv.com and published on the 24th August 2016