May 20 2013

What is Good Customer Service?

When it comes to brand loyalty, my requirements may not be very different from yours. If a product is well made, and the brand is ethical in its practices, and respectful to its customers, I will promote it to those I interact with, and continue to buy from them. The world of Social Media has been challenging to companies, no doubt, but a blessing to consumers. In the past, trying to find honest feedback about a product was time-consuming and difficult. Now, if I want to know what consumers think of a product or Brand, I can go to Facebook and Twitter to get those answers very quickly. Sometimes, extremely passionately.

An old marketing statistics is that for every two compliments shared about a product, there were ten complaints shared with others. That an unhappy customer was more vocal.
[The Customer Experience: thecustomerinstitute.blogspot.ca]

In my circle of friends, this holds true. Definitely I hear the horror stories and causes of unhappiness more frequently than the positive experiences. Perhaps that is because emotions are stronger when a person feels that they have been mistreated or \”robbed\” of their hard-earned money.

With confidence I say that we would all agree that, for companies, it is less expensive and easier to maintain an existing customer than it is to gain a new one.

\”What should you do? The first step is to make sure that your customers don’t leave. Keep them satisfied. Keep them happy. Keep them coming back.\”
Startling Statistics on Customer Retention & Acquisition

So, how do we judge our satisfaction with a brand? After the initial purchase, and learning first-hand that the product functions as or better than expected, our next opinion of a company is formed when we have an issue with the product. If years down the road, no problems have occurred, we\’re happy, but not happy enough to actively promote the company without a trigger.

If days or weeks down the road, something goes wrong, the outcome of our company interaction is likely to be shared. More so if the outcome is not what we deem to be fair. These interactions are not a reflection of the actual product, it\’s a reflection of the Customer Service of that company.

We can\’t publicly know of every phone call made to a company. But we do know of the interactions on Twitter. I have my criteria for \”good customer service\” as I am sure you do too.

When I tweet about a purchase and the brand responds to me, in any manner, that is good customer service. I feel that my voice is heard amongst the populous and that they feel each customer is important. Not just the celebrities, high trenders and influencers; each and every one of them. Examples: @FordCanada @ChaptersIndigo @PenguinBooks and @CanyonCreekEats

What if that tweet is expressing a disatifaction? If the response is to reach out in an attempt to rectify the situation, that is good customer service. Examples: @Fido and Bell Canada

If the response is non-existent, only to rehash the company\’s advertising tag-lines and slogans, or to explain why your feelings are incorrect, that would be bad customer service in my opinion.

Over the Victoria Day 2013 weekend, my Tassimo brewer (purchased as a 2011 Christmas gift to me) stopped functioning correctly. Instead of a cup of coffee, I got unusual loud noises, several flashing red lights and a tablespoon of coffee. Their Twitter team suggested a solution to my problem and redirected me to their toll free line if it was not successful. The person on the toll free line obtained the information about me and my machine, had me run a cleaning cycle, asked me to attempt to brew a coffee, then decided that the machine must be defective. The warranty is for 12 months. Mine is 17 months old. His solution was to replace the machine. How? I go buy a new one. There was also a comment about how I have an older machine. Old at 17 months. Is that the dedication the company has to a $120+ purchase: 17 months? My stance with Tassimo went from \”Promoting Fan\” to \”Disappointed Dupe\”.

I made this phone call on Saturday May 18. I am writing this on Sunday, May 19. By next Sunday, my final opinion on Tassimo will be cemented. It will be set in stone by the response the company makes and how much they stand behind the quality of their product.

What criteria do you measure against to determine Good Customer Service? Do you expect any service at all after a product is purchased? For how long: weeks, months, years? Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

Disclosure: I am a person of reading instructions and manuals. My full experience with Tassimo Customer Service can be read here.

Update June 10, 2013: Tassimo has not responded to me in any manner at all despite me reaching out to them via Twitter, direct email, and their website contact form email. Disappointing to learn that they don\’t care about their customers after a purchase is made.

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