By Carol Chapman, Principal & Co-founder, The Brand Ascension Group
Most people have heard the term Moments of Truth. These are those defining moments when customers evaluate whether or not you Walk your Talk as a brand and declare “This is great—I’ll be back” or “Nada – don’t’ think I’ll return”.
I’ve recently come to believe (based on my experience) that there are very few brands that hire and train their employees for behaviors that reflect their brand. I think that most businesses just take it for granted that their employees know how to interact positively with their customers.
When an organization’s marketing messages promise something to their customers but the actual experience is short of living up to that promise, that’s when organizations need to be aware that this impacts how your brand is perceived –big time! Why are less and less organizations concerned about how their employees are showing up and behaving during service interactions? Consider the following scenarios that I experienced recently with a couple of online retailers:
I recently phoned Dell’s customer service as I had difficulty purchasing some printer cartridges for my Dell printer online. It was a very disappointing experience.
The problem I had was that during the online transaction process, I could not get the system to take the shipping address I entered. It kept defaulting back to the billing address of my credit card. I tried everything. Then I tried to cancel the order online. Wouldn’t let me do that either. So, I called their toll-free number and got a Customer Service Representative who transferred me to Sales indicating they had to cancel the order. When connected with sales, they were not authorized to cancel the order. It was customer service’s job to do that. So they transferred me back to Customer Service.
I explained my situation to the customer service representative and displeasure for being transferred back and forth. He proceeded to get rude on the phone with me. He said, “I’m a Customer Service Level 1 Rep and my job is to transfer people to the right department. I can’t cancel your order”! I was really taken aback. I said, “you’re customer service and can’t cancel my order?” I asked to speak with a supervisor to which he replied, “One moment”. One moment turned into 5 minutes of wait time for him to come back to me. It finally took a total of 15 minutes to get to a supervisor. After some discussion, she couldn’t figure out how to change the shipping address. I had to suggest to her we just cancel my order, which she was able to do – for a moment I wasn’t sure. But get this, she had to send me back to a sales representative to reorder. Geez, what kind of people are they hiring and what training are they receiving? And what kind of processes have they established. I’m currently looking for alternative vendors to purchase my Dell printer cartridges. I don’t want to return!
I ordered a pair of shoes from Zappos.com. If you are not familiar with them, please check them out at www.zappos.com. Service extraordinaire! I received my shoes within record time with free shipping. When the shipment arrived, I received 2 orders. The one I actually ordered and another customer’s order by mistake. The shoes I ordered had a defect in the inside of the toe area on the right shoe. Very uncomfortable!
I phoned Zappos to resolve my issue. The customer service representative said “Please keep the shoes and feel free to give them to goodwill if you want to?” They also weren’t able to replace the order because they were out of stock. The customer service representative said, “I’d like to place you on our VIP list. You’ll receive free overnight shipping both ways with every future order. I’d also like to give a $15 coupon off your next purchase and will send you a confirmation email. I’ll also make sure you receive an email when this item is back in stock.” I was astounded and quite frankly just delighted with the whole interaction. He was friendly, helpful and genuine. He asked if I would place the other shoes I mistakenly received outside my doorstep for pick-up the next day to which I said, “absolutely, my pleasure.” I continue to shop Zappos.com. In fact, sometimes I prefer to call rather than just order via the internet, because of the interaction and the positively memorable experience I have every time with their customer service reps. Zappos.com—you rock!
More organizations can learn from companies like Zappos. All it takes is hiring the right people with the right customer service attitude and good human interaction skills; and some solid customer service training on how to deliver on the brand experience–consistently.