As a society that is driven by meeting the needs of consumers via goods and services, one would assume that treating the customer right would be priority number one.  The ability to meet and exceed customers’ needs is what essentially makes or breaks any business.

Sadly many businesses completely miss the mark when it comes to customer service.  As I have highlighted before, there are many good and bad apples out there, and once again, I recently experienced both above par and well-below-par customer service.   Here are a couple more examples:

  • Stevens’ Battery Warehouse: When I had the air conditioning compressor fixed in my SUV a few months ago, the mechanic told me that my battery was on its last legs.  Not wanting to take any chances, I recently headed to Steven’s Battery Warehouse in Annapolis, MD.  In the parking lot, a technician pleasantly greeted me and replaced my battery in a matter of 15 minutes.  Had I gone to a larger automotive supply shop, I would have had to wait for hours for this simple service to be completed.  Way to go Steven’s Battery Warehouse!
  • Bad Brakes = Bad Service: Along the lines of more automotive troubles, I had to get new brakes installed in my car and the dealer quoted me a price of $250.00, which seemed reasonable compared to other quotes I received in the ballpark of $700.00.  Shortly after arriving at home the dealer called me and told me the real price would be $500.00.  When I asked why the price doubled, I was told that the original quote was only for the front brakes. What a bad way to provide a cost estimate:  low ball upfront and then spring the real price on the customer once the car is apart and in the shop.
  • Endless Calls to Comcast: In the wake of Hurricane Irene, I called Comcast to inquire as to when my Internet and cable would be restored and pressed option “1” asking them to call me back with an update on my service being restored – since they were dealing with a heavy influx of calls at that time that seemed reasonable.  To date they have not called back, by the way.  When my power was restored, I called their “national call center” – which was most likely in India or the Philippines – and I was advised that the entire state of Maryland was without service.  Although my neighbors had their service restored, so I called again.  I was assured that my service would be restored in a few hours.  On my 4th call I was advised that a trouble ticket had never been submitted even though my account was noted.  Four hours later my service was restored.  Had a trouble ticket been submitted earlier my service would have undoubtedly been restored sooner.  And, when I inquired about getting a credit for the downtime, they told me I had to call them back again.  Surely, natural disasters are a major challenge for companies like Comcast, but this was a case study in what not to do with regards to customer service.

On the positive side, my experience with Steven’s Battery Warehouse was absolutely phenomenal and it reinforced my belief in providing outstanding service.  On the flip side, my experience with getting new brakes left a sour taste in my mouth.

Customer service is paramount and there are those who strive for excellence and those that fall very short. Perhaps one day all businesses will fully understand the simplest tenet to achieving business success is that customer service is the key to profitability and it all comes from efficiently satisfying the customer.  And be careful, one bad customer service story can catch on like wildfire over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter!

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group