I had a power outage the other day. After 27 hours of darkness, heat and complaining kids, the electric company finally repaired things and got me and my family up and running again. However, I quickly found that for some reason my internet, phone and TV service had been damaged by the incident and no longer worked. This meant a dreaded call to my provider.
The reason I bring this up is to prove how much influence the service behaviors of a company can have on customer perceptions. Did you see how I said DREADED call? I’ll bet no one batted an eye when they read that. In fact, I will bet most of you nodded your head in agreement. Why is that? Why is it that when people mention having to call their internet provider or their mobile phone provider, the typical response is a laugh and a comment about how horrible the experience is going to be?
Well, my experience is a good example. After plodding through an endless series of questions and instructions requiring several pushes of different buttons on my phone’s keypad, I was met with, “let me get someone to help you.” That’s all I wanted in the first place. The wait for a human being was one hour and five minutes. Fortunately mobile phones have a speaker function and I was able to have it plugged in to an electrical outlet so I could manage the hour wait and do some other things.
Once I got a human, the person who I spoke with was excellent, she was kind and very helpful. She didn’t sound like she was reading from a script and truly listened to me and waited when I needed to take time to find something. She was great. The thing that wasn’t great was when we determined that a service call would be necessary (why are these called service calls? This is a repair call. Service is what I was or wasn’t getting. See my post called What’s Your Mission.).
I was actually fine with getting a repair person to come over, in fact, I was glad. The problem was in scheduling the “appointment.” The appointment, as it turned out, was not an appointment at all. She said, “we can come out today, but I can’t give you a time, someone will need to be there all day. Outside of that, our next appointment is next week.” My brain went fuzzy and I couldn’t believe it. I was now in the position of having to provide service to them by being available at their convenience rather than them serving me at my convenience. I pay their bills, I am a customer, I pay their paychecks. They should serve me. This was a true example of a company whose focus is not at all on the customer, but rather on what suits them best.
This is the prime thing I want to get at here. These types of companies have earned themselves a reputation for providing poor service and they perpetuate it by sending regular subtle messages that their focus is on them and not their customers. They spend a ton of money on marketing how great their service is, yet their actions say something else entirely…and people know it (think about your head shake when I mentioned calling my internet provider.)
While I could get into talking about ways they could fix their “appointment” system and their automated phone system, I will spare you. What I do want to say is that the first step for these companies is for them to scrap their current systems and start over by looking at everything, and I mean everything, from the customer perspective. What does a customer have to do to get help? What do they have to go through? How does it affect their lives? How does it screw up their day or not?
Service is about helping people succeed and great service not only does that but it does it in a way that is easy and enjoyable. If you want your business to be great at service, you must first and foremost examine how well you are helping your customers succeed and how easy and enjoyable it is by walking in their shoes. You need to design systems and processes around your customers’ needs and goals rather than your company’s needs and goals.
QUESTION: What is you business’s focus, your own needs or your customers’? Is it time to take a hard look?