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January 2013
The Really Good, The Bad and
the Unbelievably Ugly
In the month of December I experienced customer service levels ranging from really, really good to so awful I can’t believe they can stay in business. Because I know you want to give your customers and clients only exceptional service, (right?) here’s some service lessons driven home by my recent experiences:
  • Easy Peasy should describe doing business with you
  • Get it right the FIRST TIME!
  • Tell the Truth and nothing but the truth!
  • Customers are not like mushrooms
  • Couch potatoes deliver poor service
So what drove me to drink in December besides the appeal of a Chocolate Martini, well here’s the edited version for content and adult language, beginning with the ugly so we can conclude with service you should emulate.
The Unbelievably Ugly – Lenovo Computers

Get it right the first time means shipping me a working laptop the first time! Lenovo shipped and I returned 3 non-working laptops before I cursed their ancestors and demanded a refund. During this maddening process, I learned that even after waiting 23 minutes and 37 seconds, when support finally answered they would not – could not give me technical support. I had to be given a case number and then wait up to 24 hours for someone to call me back. Oh, yes friends I was supposed to sit at my desk for 24 hours just waiting for a call from
India. But the best surprise was when I was told to ship the 3rd laptop back and call Lenovo when it reached their warehouse so they could then and only then process my refund. YES, they expected me to track the returned laptop and call THEM when it reached THEIR warehouse. These are “planned processes” not just indifferent employees. Bad processes by design! Easy peasy is an unknown phrase to Lenovo.
The Standard Bad – You guessed it an Airline

On our return trip from Washington DC over Christmas, our JetBlue plane was delayed. No departure time given on the board so I approached the ticket counters and asked about the delay. “Well, it’s due to de-icing in Boston. The plane is coming from Boston and they have to de-ice so it will be late. Don’t know how late”. Since de-icing is standard and is built into scheduling during winter and in cold cities, this excuse didn’t ring true. After waiting at the gate for 90 minutes, the gate finally announced that the plane from Ft Lauderdale should be landing soon and we would be able to board in about 20 minutes. Liar, liar pants on fire! No de-icing in Boston. No interim updates with information that might have told us we had time to grab something to eat. Just the usual sit still, shut up and don’t complain. Tell your customers or clients the truth and if you don’t know the truth, admit it but tell your customer you’ll find the truth! And remember unlike mushrooms, customers don’t flourish in the dark.
The Great Service Award goes to the Entire City of Washington, D.C.

During a 3 ½ day visit to D.C. I was blown away by the simple civility, genuine desire to help and overall friendliness of everyone from cab drivers, to bellmen to waiters to the staffs at every attraction. Everyone was proactive – no service couch potatoes here! They didn’t wait to be asked! They approached us everywhere and asked if we needed help. Stopped us on the street to offer directions when we looked at a map. Volunteered to suggest the next restaurant we should try and without an umbrella, stood in 40mph wind and driving rain to hail us a cab!
Exceptional service is proactive service. It’s not waiting for the customer to ask for help or ask for suggestions or ideas. It’s seeking out your customers and volunteering your expertise and knowledge. It’s making it easy to do business with you by developing processes and procedures that answer the customer’s needs not your needs. It’s telling the truth and in the absence of a quick truth, seeking the real truth. And above all, exceptional service is getting it right the first time.
So how would your customers rate your service:
Great, Good, Bad or freaking Ugly!
Call Catalytic Management today to learn about strategies, tactics, standards and well every thing you need to know to deliver exceptional customer service.
978-562-5001