About 13 per cent of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC)

Customer service is still not at the heart of every consumer business and it’s something I just can not understand. There are many excuses, from the ground up – it’s too difficult to get the systems in place; it’s too expensive to reorganise/implement; training is time consuming and expensive etc. This is a very short sited view. Surely it’s the case that by investing the time and money into great customer service will pay for itself in the long run – and hopefully 10x over. And lets face it, kindness doesn’t cost.

Recently I’ve had two varying experiences and two very different outcomes. One was in store – I was given only 14 days to return something after purchase. I was out of town and finally made it in on the 14th day. The sales assistant asked if I wanted to trade the same shirt for the same one after I expressed I didn’t like the way it fit or the line sewn down the front. Erm, no, no I do not want to buy the same shirt as the one I’m returning, but thanks. Can I get the money back. No, I can only have a store credit. No matter what they’ll get the money. Okay fine, I’ll try to spend it there in the next six months.

Now this isn’t the end of the world. It was a bit lacklustre and it hasn’t bonded me to the store, which I actually really liked from a  product offering perspective.

Now on the flip-side: recently I bought some stuff from Fab.com (invite link). Fab sells lots of stuff on behalf of others – however they make you feel as if the stuff is from them, almost personally. Lots of cool stuff, lots of flash sales and some good deals. Definitely something to checkout/join if you’ve not.

Out of three shirts I ordered, two didn’t fit, so I went online and filled in the form choosing the ‘item doesn’t fit’ and then explained my situation in the box below. What I received freaked me out at first. How can a computer be that human? What kind of algorithm have they developed and how have I not heard about it until now? Is this AI starting to take place – and if NPI has become this advanced, why do we still have such trouble with sentiment analysis.

Fab.com Customer Service Email

They let me know they loved the shirt too, apologised for not being able to replace it (not necessary, it happens!) and then complemented my taste – nice touch.

Since I was shocked, I tweeted and they responded:

Colour me impressed. So on I go to continue my returns/exchanges and the next day or so I received a follow up email from Crackerjack Joe and Joe added: “Also, I just wanted to say thank you for the great twitter shout-out! :)”. Full circle and I was hooked. I’ll definitely be making purchases via Fab for some time to come. Hassle free returns, great customer service and people that care. I’m in.

Smile. You’re designed to. – Fab.com

In between starting to write this post and publishing, a friend of mind had an ordeal with Feather & Black about a new bed she had purchased. It went on for the good part of a year. At the end of her tether she decided to share her experience, to warn others and to potentially get the attention of the store so they can improve their customer service (her issue was resolved 10 months after purchase) – not sure if she received any compensation, but I don’t believe so.

Apart from this being appalling customer service, what shocked me was that their Head of Customer Services thought that going on and letting any future customers that may be reading the post know that my friend was just a one off – devaluing the blog post, not offering any additional support, just using the platform to promote their good reviews – link and all.

Feather & Black poor response

Now I get what Sally from Feather & Black is trying to do, but I would never recommend to a client to go about responding this way. It feels as if Sally doesn’t think my friend’s issue deserves a second thought, since it doesn’t happen often. She could have even just written the first line and stopped. Or added “If you need anything further, please get in touch with me directly.” or “It would be great if I could speak to you directly to discuss what you’ve experienced.” Then use that information to fix any internal issues that caused such a situation to take place.

I’ve advised my friend to remove Sally’s URL – I’ll definitely advise her to remove the link to their site – or at least ensure it’s no follow.

Treat others how you want to be treated.

This goes for brands as well. Why is it difficult to help someone out after they purchase your product. Just because you have their money, it does not mean the relationship is over. The relationship continues for the duration of the person owning the product or using the service. If you do it right, people will continue to sing your praises well after their done with your products and hopefully tell/recommend you to all their friends and family.

Find some great stats about customer service for 2013 here on Technically Marketing.

Feature Image courtesy of Fab.com