The whole reason I'm going to do this is because today I had a terrible customer service experience, and I think it’s really important as a business that you understand about looking after your customers and why that is key. I see all the time businesses, and I'm talking about a large organisation here today.
The problem with a large organisation
It was an organisation called Foxtel, you may well aware of who they are. The problem with big companies like that is they get to a point where they know two things: number one, they've got a monopoly, and number two, if they lose one customer, it’s not going to kill them. But the reality is that they’re in control. And they really don’t have good customer service in place.
What we can learn
I think there’s a lot of lessons we can learn from some of these organisations that have got to the point where they’re past caring about their customer or what not to do. Because I really think that if a really good competitor came into the marketplace, besides the fact it would probably make it really difficult for them, that someone would probably sell out, because everyone has a price if they did come in as competition. But the reality is, if someone was to come in and compete with Foxtel and do it just a little bit better, they’d go broke. Why? Because their customer service sucks. And I just don’t think it’s very good for any business, no matter what your position is, no matter whether you have a monopoly or not, to treat people, your customers, in a way that’s below par, is not on.
So what happened?
Now just to give you an idea of what happened, and it’s not just Foxtel by the way, it’s all these big companies. I got an SMS from them, and the SMS said that my credit card card had failed. Now the reason for that, and I knew that was going to happen, because my credit card had been skimmed. The bank worked out pretty quickly there was some fraud going on with my card, so they cancelled it and they were sending me a new one. Now I’d actually sent an email to Foxtel via their support email system letting them know this. I never got a reply. All I got was the automatic response that said, ‘Hey, we’ve received your customer submission.’ And I never got a reply. Well if they’re not going to reply to that, what am I supposed to do? I then got an SMS from them that said, ‘Hey, your credit card details need updating. Your credit card has been declined. Please call us on this number.’
Well I thought, ‘You know what, they’re sending me an SMS, I'll just hit the reply button, right..?’ That’s how we communicate. You send me an SMS, I send you an SMS. You expect to be able to get a reply. No, no, no. That’s not how it works in the world of these big companies. I pressed ‘reply,’ I typed in my message, I said I’d let them know, ‘I’m waiting on some new credit card details because my card was skimmed. Can I arrange another way to pay?’
And all I got back was a message saying it wasn’t delivered. And I thought to myself, ‘I could call them or, you know what, I’m going to hold out.’ Why? Because as a customer that spends over 1500 bucks a year with Foxtel, that I deserve the right for them to ring me if they need to contact me. I’ve tried to two occasions to make contact through the channels they deem as appropriate. Number one, email, they send me email offers all the time. And the second channel they deem appropriate is SMS, and I know that because they sent me an SMS.
How do you communicate?
So if you’re going to use SMS or email as a tool in your business, you must be prepared to take responses. This is not a one-way street. Customer service is a two-way conversation. And you need to make sure as a business that you have systems and processes in place that if someone does reply to an SMS, that somebody gets it.
Now, by the way, they sent me a second SMS threatening to disconnect my service. I knew I’d get home and my kids and my wife would be very disappointed and upset because they’d have to communicate with each other instead of watching Foxtel. Anyways, that’s a whole other story...
Let’s go to Scenario B
The moral of the story is about customer service. I’m going to give you scenario B. Imagine if this is what happened. I got an SMS from Foxtel. ‘Sorry Mr. Fewtrell, your card has been declined. We need you to update your details.’ I then replied and said, ‘I’m sorry. My card has been cancelled because it’s been skimmed, I’ve sent you a previous email. Please accept my apologies. Can I have another way to pay.’ They reply, ‘Sorry to hear about your troubles with your card Mr. Fewtrell. Reply with the number 1 if you’d like to have us call you. Reply with the number 2 if you’d like details to pay over the Internet. Reply number 3 if you need to wait a week.’ And then I replied with one of those numbers...
Imagine that sort of communication, because that’s communication, right? I think that as a business, you need to be able to communicate with your customers. It’s a big risk in 2014 and beyond, there’s a big risk you can over-systemise your business to the point where you lose that personal connection with your customer.
I want to just tell you to be careful.
What happened in the end...
Now I’ll tell you a little funny story. After that, I actually threatened that they would disconnect my account... And they put me through to the disconnection guy. He said pretty much without batting an eyelid that he would give me a $150 credit. So a little tip for you, if you’ve got FoxTell and you want to get $150 off, just ring them up and threaten to disconnect, and you’ll get yourself a discount.
Customer service is key!
Make sure in your business you’re not over-systemising. Don’t be one of the bad boys. Learn how to effectively communicate with your customers and you’ll keep them longer. Remember, it’s 6 times easier to get an existing customer to buy again than it is to get a brand new one. You can never forget that.
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.