When thinking of topics to post about, I couldn’t help but think about some of the less desirable customer service experiences I have had lately.
These kinds of things have been happening more and more recently, but here’s what has happened to me this month alone:
- My mortgage person has become non-responsive to my 2 voicemails and 2 emails spanning the last 3 weeks.
- I was promised to have a quote from a landscaper within 3 days, and I am still waiting 14 days later.
- One online retailer had to cancel my order but failed to credit me back the gift card I used to make the purchase.
- I made an appointment at my bank to get a notary, only to find out they double-booked me and I had to wait 30+ minutes (only to tell me they couldn’t do it anyway).
- My internet company erroneously charged me $99 for a tech to come out and check on a faulty modem. I spent an hour on the phone trying to get it reversed.
This is just from the past couple of weeks.
Am I alone here? Or am I a victim of recent bad luck?
I don’t think it’s bad luck, because I have seen things happen fairly consistently over the past several years. If service is not a thing of the past, it certainly feels like it.
I am trying to think of the last GREAT experience I have had, and honestly, it’s been a while. But I feel like I can spend hours capturing all the negative experiences I have had lately.
OK here’s a GREAT experience that sticks out:
The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale – 2015. Laying poolside with no eye protection on a sunny day, one of the employees doing rounds asked if I needed anything. Half-jokingly, I asked if there were any extra sunglasses around because I left mine at home. Unknowingly, this employee proceeded to go <somewhere> and came back 10 minutes later with a $100 pair of Oakley sunglasses for me to wear at the pool. Completely free-of-charge, and I didn’t need to return them. Wow. Talk about going above and beyond!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had decent experiences of late. Things like my food order being correct and on time. Or the cashier at the food store smiling and saying hello, and you’re welcome. Or the guy installing my fiber took the time to share his experiences on which wifi routers I should consider. But is this as far as it goes these days?
Call me negative, call me high maintenance. Call me what you want. But this concept of NOT providing excellent service is certainly a pet peeve of mine. And I don’t think providing just “good” service is too much to ask, right?
One thing that has always interested me is watching people in their customer service roles. Customers – especially these days – can be nasty! They approach an employee demanding help, holding their cell phones, and attacking staff from the get-go. It’s not easy handling people like this daily. I get it.
Are Americans getting worse as customers? Or are companies not focusing on training employees in customer service as much for profitability reasons (ie. “We don’t need to pick up the phone right away, the customer can wait 20+ minutes”).
Whatever it is, it’s troublesome to me and I don’t quite understand it. I was always taught things like the customer is always right, make their experience a good one, and if nothing else…KARMA will inevitably come back full circle.
In the financial advisory industry, the #1 reason why clients leave their advisors is for lack of communication. That’s right, something as simple as reaching out. Clients typically pay decent money to have their money managed. They expect regular outreach from their professional, yet most don’t get it. It’s not going to happen with me.
Sometimes I am asked, of the thousands of “financial advisors” out there, what differentiates me? I simply start with the service aspect. Providing a consistent and sound service experience if probably the main reason why my current clients recommend me to their friends and family. That’s the foundation.
Here are some of the things I have done for years and will continue to do:
- I respond. Always within 24 hours. And I respond to a call with a call, no replying to a missed call via email or text.
- I am polite. Why not? It’s common courtesy.
- If I don’t know the answer to something, I try to get it.
- If a negative situation occurs, I try to make it right. Seldom happens, but stuff goes wrong sometimes.
- I am proactive (not reactive).
- If I say I am going to do something, I do it. And I do it within the time frame I commit to.
Beyond that, we can get into my experience, honesty, track record, client references, easy-going personality, work ethic, etc. But I would argue that I can still make a decent living without those things, provided that my service was solid.
Unlike other advisors, I don’t do seminars. And I don’t promise returns.
But I am consistent. I seek to under-promise and over-deliver. I try to provide value in multiples over what I am paid. Lastly, I do what I say I am going to do. I don’t think this is too much to ask from a professional.
Why I continue to encounter poor customer service experiences is beyond me. I would think it’s easy to implement. I’d even argue that service is more important than price! And it has proven to increase both consumer loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals. No brainer.
For now, I will get off my soapbox. And despite my recent experiences, I am hoping that customer service is not dead. Hopefully, it’s just taking a snoozer.