When Customer Service Fails

Do you know what your customer service staff say to your customers?

How are your customers really being treated?

Every day, staff are interacting with customers.

What impression do customers take away from their experience with your staff?

Consider the following interaction between the service staff at a car dealership and a long standing customer requesting a routine car service.

Customer drops off vehicle for service

Customer: “How long do you need the car for?”
Staff Member: “We should have it ready for you to pick up by 4pm.”
Customer: “That’s fine. Can you also look at the lock mechanism on the front passenger door. It sometimes takes a couple of goes to get it to lock.”
Staff Member: “Yes, we can take a look at that for you.”
Customer: “Can you also look at the brakes? There’s a slight pulsing in the pedal, particularly when braking to a complete stop.
Staff Member:  “Sure. We’ll check it out and let you know.”
Customer: “Ok. I’ll see you at 4. You have my phone number if you need to contact me during the day.”
(Staff member confirms correct phone number.)

4pm – Customer returns
Staff Member:  “I’ll find out what’s happening with your car. There’s a waiting room upstairs if you’d care to wait.”
(No further feedback provided.)
[social_quote duplicate=”no” align=”default”]I won’t be coming back again! -the result of bad #custexp[/social_quote]
Customer: “Can you let me know how much longer?”
Staff Member:  “I’ll check to see for you.”
Staff Member:  “It should be ready soon.”

Customer (to others waiting): “This is ridiculous!”
Fellow Customer: “Yes, I won’t be coming back here again!”

Staff: “Your vehicle is ready.”
Staff Member:  “We completed the service. You need new tires. We couldn’t find the problem with your brakes, but you need new pads soon, so that should fix it.”
Staff Member:  “The problem with the passenger door lock is that the mechanism needs to be replaced.”
Customer: “Why didn’t you let me know? Don’t you have the tyres and brake pads in stock? What about the door lock?”

customer experience mechanic
Staff Member:  “Oh, we ran out of time. No, the door can’t be locked at all now. We can book it in to have the part fitted next week.”
Customer: “That would be good. (I think.)”
(No apology for the lack of contact, or the delay in the car being available, or any clarification on parts required, or the fact that the vehicle can no longer be secured!)

Some days later …

Customer: “I’m here to have the new door lock fitted.”
Staff Member:  “Ah yes. Let’s get that done for you right away. Sorry for the problems last time. We were really busy. Our survey department received your customer feedback form. We hope you will give us full marks for today.”
Customer: “We’ll see.”
Staff Member:  “You know, we receive a bonus when we get good scores on customer surveys. And we get the best scores in the city for our service. I actually share my bonus with my colleague, and he shares his with me, so we always come out on top.”
Customer: “Hmmm.”

Later that day …

Staff Member:  “All done. Be sure to give us a positive report when our customer survey team contact you.”

[social_quote duplicate=”no” align=”default”]Your customer’s experience IS your brand! #custexp[/social_quote]


Is this how staff treat your customers or clients? What incentives do you provide your staff for satisfying your customer’s needs? If your staff are not placing the interests of your customers first, then your customers will not stick around.

Your customer service, and more specifically, the experience of your customers, IS YOUR BRAND!

Infographic – Customer Experience

Take a look at this recent post, Wake-Up – Take customer experience seriously by Torben Rick. It includes a great infographic with 8 key points to consider about customer experience.


No, the customer has not returned to that dealership. In fact, attempts to obtain good customer service from another nearby dealership were also a dismal failure. And to cap this off, the issue with the brakes was remedied by an independent brake specialist for one-third the cost of the quote provided by the original dealership, without replacing any parts. In addition, a visit to a local tire specialist resulted in the purchase and fitting of four new tires.

This customer will not be purchasing another vehicle of this make any time soon; and definitely not without some solid evidence of a major turnaround in their customer service attitude and training.

Given that this has proven to be an endemic issue with this organisation, there’s obviously a need for change at the top management level. It’s important to recognise that within any organisation, the attitude of its staff is a reflection of the attitude of its leaders.

How much is the attitude of the leadership in your organisation contributing to bad customer experience?

How much is bad customer experience costing your business?

customer experience waving goodbye

Uncommon Service – Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business

A Refreshing and Pragmatic Approach On How To Deliver Excellent Customer Service

“Uncommon Service – How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business”

Uncommon Service - Customer Service through customer centricity
By Frances Frei & Anne Morriss
Published 2012
By Harvard Business Review Press

– Create an environment within your organisation where all employees focus on delivering excellent customer service.

In this recently released book, Frei and Morriss identify four key dimensions to achieve excellent customer service. Organisations need to both recognise and manage each of these areas effectively.

Customer Service Dimensions

Four dimensions of business for delivering customer service:excellent customer service feedback
– defining your service offering and how customers will perceive customer service excellence
– defining the mechanism for funding customer service excellence
– defining the employee management system to allow employees to deliver customer service excellence
– defining the customer management system to facilitate the improvement of customer experience

Service models need to be designed around all of these dimensions.

Each dimension is broken down, analysed and backed with relevant, contemporary case studies.
Case studies are drawn from organisations spanning finance, retail, travel, healthcare and freight services.

The authors contend that customer service excellence comes at a price, and that price is the tradeoff between being good at everything or being excellent at your core competency.

Trying to be the best at everything is counterproductive to customer service excellence. Deliberate tradeoffs can lead to delivering excellent customer service in those areas that your customers value most.

The key to this approach is in identifying those service attributes on which you are competing for customers, then determining how to fund service delivery in those areas, define management systems and business processes to facilitate employees in delivering excellence in those areas, and finally, managing the customer experience.

Customer Service – Link to Leadership and Organisational Culture

The strength of this book lies in linking the identified four dimensions with the requirement for a strong organisational culture; a culture that has clarity of purpose, is consistent with the organisational strategy, structure and operations, and is effectively communicated and universally understood within the organisation. This requires leadership to create a culture and environment that reinforces the service model at every touchpoint.Organisational Culture - happy customer service team

Frei and Morriss conclude by highlighting that “employees are yearning to be of service, customers are eager to do their part, and organisations can, in fact, change overnight”. As with most challenges in life, change commences with a clarity of vision of what is possible, and the unwavering belief in realising that vision.

It is this pragmatic approach in “Uncommon Service” that is refreshing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is delivering a customer service.

Australian and New Zealand customers can purchase this book through the link on our Recommended Reading page (under Resources).

Please share your comments below!

Read more here: http://uncommonservice.com/

Return to: Customer Experience Services

Telco study recognises training requirement for customer service employees

Customer Service Employees Require Training

– Customers Deserve Better Customer Service

The latest customer service Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has been released today. Their survey found:

Why do we keep putting up with this lack of customer service?

Will training for customer service employees really result in improving customer experience?

Or does the focus need to extend beyond training of customer service employees?

Find The Telecommunications Industry Reports and Updates here

Employee Engagement and Amazing Customer Experience

Employee Engagement and Amazing Customer Experience

Earlier this month I posted an article about Employee Engagement Awareness on the Rise, and more recently I noted the release of a new book, Touchpoints – Improving Leadership and Employee Engagement by Douglas R. Conant (2011), CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

Recently I read the book Employees First, Customers Second by Vineet Nayar, published in 2010 which identifies the importance of employee engagement and the “value zone” – those in your organisation who add value to your customers and understand the importance of the customer experience delivery. And I have just finished Shep Hyken’s latest book, The Amazement Revolution, in which he provides a number of practical customer service strategies for building both customer and employee loyalty, backed by dozens of case studies.

Discussions continue to increase around the importance of employee engagement – having engaged employees, who are advocates of the products and services that your business provides.

In the past few months I have also been working with Clienteer Consulting, an independent consulting group, actively helping businesses to become more customer centric by identifying and meeting customer needs through employee engagement and strategic goal alignment.

Employee Engagement Growth

The benefits to be gained by customer centric organisations continue to be widely recognised. The capacity to deliver amazing customer experiences and achieve successful customer outcomes, can only be realised through employees who are truly engaged with the business, its products and services.

Employee Engagement Questions For Your Business

What strategies has your organisation adopted to improve customer experience?

Were they effective?

Did the customer experience strategies include employee engagement?

Please leave your comments below –

Return to: Customer Experience Services

Customer Experience Professional Training 2011

TrainerSessions are filling fast for Customer Experience Professional Training announced for February in Sydney.? Additional sessions have also been scheduled for April.

Details are available on the BP Group website HERE.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, senior executives and strategists, sales and marketing managers, program managers, customer contact managers and staff, customer experience owners, customer service managers and staff, members of customer experience design teams, front-line managers and personnel and everyone else with a responsibility to customers and a stake in getting the most out of understanding and improving customer experience.

This training is very hands-on and highly practical, and arms you with strategies that can be implemented immediately by all who attend.

I highly recommend this training.

Book Review – “Outside-In” by Steve Towers

Outside-In – The Secret of the 21st Century Leading Companies

BP Group Press, 2010

Steve Towers has once again put pen to paper to present us with strategies that organisations may adopt to achieve success in today’s ever-changing business landscape.

An Outside-In Philosophy

In suggesting that today’s businesses are working with new rules and within a new environment is no surprise to any of us who are over the age of 30. The question is how to mould organisations into a way of thinking that is aligned with today’s consumer to ensure “successful customer outcomes” in all business and consumer interactions – hence, an “outside-in” philosophy.

From the inside cover: “A seasoned practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience, Steve is one of industry’s noted experts in Enterprise BPM and Performance transformation. He heads the Research & Professional Services network within the BP Group. … A noted leader, Steve works as a mentor, coach and consultant and has helped pioneer through research and ‘hands-on’ exposure to the world’s leading companies, the evolution to Advanced BPM aka ‘Outside-In‘. Recently recognised as a global thought leader in ‘Outside-In’ Steve continues to evolve process thinking towards a customer centric view of business.”

The book questions the approach of traditional business processes, noting that just because we’ve always done something a given way, doesn’t necessarily make it right. And even if we perceive that we may be doing things ‘right’, are they really the right things to be doing in the first place? While these concepts in themselves are not ground-breaking, the idea of fixing the causes of work instead of massaging a process to compensate for an outcome (effect), is one of the fundamental mind shifts that is presented.

We live in a world where consumers have access to more information than they can ever possibly desire. They can easily be, and quite often are, more informed than the customer service person who supplies them with whatever product or service they are sourcing. Steve suggests that, as suppliers, we need to step into the shoes of these ‘pro-sumers’, our customers, to understand their true need, rather than their perceived ‘want’. If we understand who our customers are, their expectations, the process they think they are involved with, that everything we do impacts the customer, and what their real needs are, then we are capable of delivering ‘successful customer outcomes’.

The book is an easy read, stepping us through a series of questions to make us look at things from our customer’s point of view. Beyond this, the framework presented provides a foundation for organisations to question their current approach to the way their business processes are implemented. It suggests that in using this framework, simultaneous improvements can be achieved in revenue, costs and customer service – something considered a lot more challenging to achieve using previous business process improvement strategies. After all, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” (Einstein).

Outside-In Examples

The steps within the presented framework are backed up with many examples, some a little more contemporary than others. While the concept of a customer centric organisation is not new, the framework presented here is the first I’ve seen that is sound, logical, comprehensive and practical. The list of companies cited as taking an outside-in approach is impressive, with many well known brands mentioned. Most notably these are companies that survived and even grew during the global financial crisis.

In a time when we are overloaded with information and complex challenges, I find the concepts of “Outside In” both pragmatic and refreshing. More than anything, it suggests that we need to remove our blinkers, unlearn our understanding of customer satisfaction and widen our horizon to encompass a much more comprehensive total customer experience.

Every organisation only exists to serve its customers. If you work in an organisation, and particularly if you are in a position to shape the processes within an organisation, then I would recommend that you read “Outside-In”.

BPM Systems