14/05/2012

By Adrian Swinscoe, Director, RARE Business

When it comes to customer satisfaction or customer retention, it seems to me that it is the little things that can have the biggest impact. The reason that I say this is that I have had a couple of experiences over the last couple of weeks that have left me speechless over the level of care, attention to detail and listening skills that exist in many companies that I see around us today.

Consider this, recently, we were given a travel gift as part of a birthday present from my parents and we were excitedly looking forward to the trip in the coming weeks. Then, a couple of weeks ago the travel company called me to say that they were no longer able to pick us up from our designated pick up spot due to lack of numbers coming from that point. That was disappointing.

However, it gets worse. They then wanted to give me a part refund as recompense for any inconvenience faced. Not too bad but it gets worse. After organising the refund and seeing the money arrive in my account I thought that all was well. I wasn’t happy with the travel company but was looking forward to the trip too much to cause too much of a fuss.

However, a few days later an invoice arrived with FULL details of the cost of the trip and details of the refund after I repeatedly told them that the trip was a gift. When I called them up to explain the situation and how annoyed I was...I didn’t need to know and didn’t want to know the cost of the trip, it was a gift from my Mum and Dad...all I got was excuses about accounts and procedures. What this showed me was how a little attention and care could have prevented such a hurtful and annoying situation.

Another example, albeit smaller, happened to me when I took the car in for a service early one morning. I was assured that the car would be ready at the end of the day so dutifully I made my way to the garage to pick up the car at the end of the day. When I got there I was told that the car needed a couple of things done to it and because they did not have the parts in stock the car would not be ready til the next day.

This annoyed me only because I had gone out of my way to get to the garage before it closed resulting in me shuffling my day. All it would have taken was a phone call to let me know the situation. If they had done that I would have quite readily authorised the work and have picked up the car the next day. As it turned out, I begrudged the authorisation of the work due the lack of care and effort on the part of the service staff who could’ve let me know sooner and have prevented me from making my way needlessly to the garage today. It wasn’t about the money, it was about the lack of care and the inconvenience that their actions caused me, the customer.

Now, is it me? Am I turning into Mr Angry? Or, is the lack of care for the customer that takes place in some companies sometimes astounding?

What is it going to take to fix it?

Your thoughts and ideas would be most welcome.