The other day I read a post on LinkedIn titled, ‘When a Favorite Company Breaks Your Heart.’ At first, I wasn’t sure what the story would be about. Did a company go out of business? Did they discontinue a favorite product? What?
I was surprised to learn that the story dealt instead with poor customer service. In short, a woman’s phone stopped working so she took it to the dealer to get it fixed or replaced. Through a myriad of missteps by the company, she got neither. Instead, she and her husband felt they’d been treated poorly, possibly lied to, and definitely misled. As they watched new customers receive what seemed like preferential treatment, the couple felt their years of brand loyalty mattered not. Like a car’s value depreciates the second it’s driven off the lot, these customers felt their value to the company had diminished.
As I pondered the notion that poor service could equate to a broken heart, I started reading through the hundreds of comments to the post. Responses ranged from curious (“why rant publicly about something you can’t change?”), to blame (“the founder is no longer there so the company lacks … the importance of service”), on to comparisons with other companies (“you think that’s bad…”).
Having spent two decades in operations, read hundreds of books on serving people, and attended or spoken at dozens of conferences on how to value customers, I considered how I would have replied to the woman whose phone stopped working. My response would have followed the advice I received many years ago, advice that still rings true today and is as follows:
These three simple points aren’t just relevant to providing good customer service in a start-up, growing, or mature business. They should resonate through the halls of all economic and social verticals. Based on the woman’s experience and my knowledge of how to treat customers, I can see how being treated poorly by a company you’ve patronized repeatedly could be heartbreaking. The relationship is damaged. Trust has been broken. And that hurts.
I never expect anyone or any company to be perfect. I do, however, expect them to be fair, logical, and responsive. I also expect them to apologize when a mistake is made and learn from the experience in order to do better in the future.
As a fast growing company providing high-end personalized gift cards, we at GiftCards.com have certainly made mistakes with our customers, as well. For that, I am sorry. I can assure you that we first address the issue presented, learn how to improve the situation, and, most importantly, attempt to be better each time you give us another chance to be of service. We respect and value the relationship we have with you all.
The gifts we provide are much more than a piece of plastic. We take the responsibility of delivering these gift cards and meeting your expectations quite seriously. We hope you feel that your value to us increases with each purchase made at GiftCards.com, rather than the reverse. And should you ever encounter a problem, please give us the opportunity to mend our ways in order to continue our longstanding relationship.
- Jay Scannell