A Little Bit More


COSTLY EXPENSE OF POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE

Companies across all industries exercise tremendous marketing efforts to ensure previous, current, and potential new customers that “the customer is king” and that customer service is something that is taken very seriously. But how can it be that most of us still come across more truly negative than truly positive experiences – experiences that we instantly share with all of our friends and family?

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES & LOST OPPORTUNITIES

Last week, my wife and I got stuck at the airport. We had our flights booked with Spirit Airlines and had a connecting flight in Florida. Due to technical difficulties, we missed our connecting flight, which was the last one of the day. What a great opportunity for the airline to show its true colors. If the customer is king, and great customer service is provided, you’d think that the few of us that missed our connecting flight would be taken care of–arrangements made to most efficiently solve the problem at hand, as well as attempt to do something about the inconvenience. Instead, we were made to feel that we didn’t matter and that our time wasn’t valuable.

THE DIVIDE

Why is this happening and how should it be fixed? The customer-facing employees know it, see it, hear it, and feel it, but do NOTHING about it. Many times they can’t. They’re simply not allowed to based on the structure and rules set by their company. They aren’t empowered and don’t have the option to create happy customers. Sometimes, it’s simply a fact that they don’t care. Meanwhile, your marketing department and agency are working hard to on-board new customers, retain and keep current customers loyal, and win-back those who’ve left. They’ve even provided incentives and internal marketing platforms for their teams, but it’s apathy and and lack of motivation from the customer-facing employees. If this divide isn’t conquered, your customers will soon be on the path to offboarding.

NEUTRAL IS NOTHING

In my point of view, we were at a neutral customer experience level since we were not really “losing” or “gaining” anything. However, as mentioned above, this was a great chance for Spirit Airlines to really shine, turn me into a loyal customer, and make me willing to spread the good news about their company. All it takes is to do A LITTLE BIT MORE. In this one experience, they could have made me and the other 20 customers happy, and in turn, we would have spread great news about the company (for free), and would have most likely been on the path to becoming truly loyal customers.

HOW SPIRIT COULD HAVE CREATED LOYAL CUSTOMERS?

  • Assure each customer that everything possible is being done to find an optimal solution – this doesn’t cost anything.
  • Then, accommodate your customers adequately and provide them with flexible food vouchers that buy them more than just an apple and a muffi
  • Reimburse them for cost incurred such as a non-refundable hotel night.
  • Provide a flight voucher or upgrade for their next flight, which only costs the company a fraction of the value anyway.

How can the “A LITTLE BIT MORE” approach work when such a divide exists between marketing and customer service?


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  • Zack Swire

    So very true. We’ve all been in these experiences before where we see how simple it could have been for the company to make us happy. Many times with little effort. Although sometimes it’s simply the fault of a poor employee, more often than not, it’s the company policies that don’t enable the employees to do so. A recent post talks about how these issues are created by silos in an organization.http://goswire.posterous.com/how-silos-politics-create-unhappy-customers

  • lucindadevries

    While living in Las Vegas I used Vonage for my business. I was very happy with the service and the cost and used them for over a year. When the economy took a dive and my husband and I were moving to CA I needed to cancel the service. My business was closed and we no longer needed Vonage. They offered to give me my last month free. That was great and I told them I would use them again. Then the next two months they continued to charge me for service. I called repeatedly and told them I had canceled. Apparently the person i first spoke to signed me up for a pay for two months get one free service. I told them I didn’t need it, wanted my money back, and that I was incredibly unhappy. The fees they automatically took from my account caused multiple checks to bounce and over draft fees. They chose to do nothing except put back the cost of the service for two months. I asked for them to pay the overdraft fees as well and was told they don’t do that. So, I paid for their mistake at a time when I couldn’t afford it. They lost a happy customer and I am very vocal about my expereince. All it would have taken to make me a happy customer would be to reimburse me for my costs. I would have used them again. Instead now, I tell everyone not to use them and will never use them again myself.

  • Sven Simon

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s another great example of the divide but takes on even a different spin because Vonage basically “converted” you into a loyal customer (since you would have signed up with them again) but then quickly turned you into a very unhappy customer who is spreading the “bad news”. It’s amazing how quickly that happens. I’m curious to find out more from you in regards to what Vonage did in order to win you back, if anything?!