December 14, 2015

What Do the Numbers 7, 17, and Many Thousands Mean for Your Customer Service?

By Paul Bieber

This is not a magician’s trick, just simple math. A while back I read a study from a large university (honest thought–I can’t remember the name of the school) talking about customer service. If you do a great job for a customer, on average, they will tell seven others about your great glass company. On the other hand, if you do a lousy job, on average they will tell 17 people.

Where do the thousands come from? In our electronic age, with Facebook, blogging and Twitter, your customer may reach thousands of people. Do you want to do a lousy job and hear about it from everywhere?

You’re saying this won’t happen to you. So here is my story.  I have a laptop computer with a hard drive starting to make a lot of noise. I called the company and they issued a pick-up by FedEx. The computer was still within the company’s one year warranty. So far, so good. (I am not going to mention the company name, as this is not the right forum for me to complain about a personal problem, but it sure is tempting.) They received the computer on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the repair took all of six minutes. They took out my hard drive and put a new blank one in. I had backed up everything on a local hard drive and also to Carbonite, as I knew this would be the result.

They sent me an email that the repair was done and they were shipping the computer back to me. The FedEx shipping number was included. Fine. It turns out they didn’t ship it on Wednesday, but did on the following Monday. I received the computer on Wednesday afternoon. Fine. I turned it on, and the computer would not accept my sign on and password. I spent a half hour and after checking things from top to bottom, I saw they sent me someone else’s computer.  The serial number was different than mine.

Now it begins. I called their 800 number for service, waited 20 minutes to talk to a live person, who told me this could not happen. I asked to speak with a supervisor. Twenty more minutes, and this supervisor offered no solutions other than sending an email to the repair depot to see what had happened. I was speaking to folks in Manila, and they were very friendly and cordial, but could not solve the problem. The repair depot was in California. I asked for their direct phone number and was told they did not have it in Manila. Their only method of contact was email.

Let’s cut to the end of story. I made 18 phone calls and was lied to on most of the calls. Some said they found my computer and would ship it ASAP, and then the next day no computer. Now I had someone else’s computer, and as it did turn out, a third party had mine. They shipped it back to the company, and I finally received my computer ten days after it should have been here. I gave the FedEx driver the wrong computer that I had, and all is happy.

Except, the computer I received, which was mine, still didn’t work. I am writing this blog on my wife’s laptop and waiting for a cure for my computer.

If, at the beginning of this saga, they told me the truth, that it would take ten days, I wouldn’t have been upset. I know that mistakes happen. I have had my share.  

Now, imagine this is your customer, and they are a blogger like me, or they work for a newspaper, or they are the President of the PTA. There is a great way to prevent this type of disaster. Do the job right, the first time, and if you do get a customer service call, jump right on it, and don’t leave until your customer is happy. Yes, there are certain customers that will never be happy, but you can serve the 99 percent of the customers who will smile about the good work your glass company does, and will tell seven people, or maybe thousands.