We all have our customer service horror stories.
The service provider who makes us lose a day at work and never shows up for the appointment. Struggling to explain that your check wouldn’t have bounced if the bank hadn’t put a 10 day hold on your deposit. Navigating an endless phone tree only to end up… disconnected.
Welcome to the new world of customer service.
Customer service has been dying a slow death for quite some time
Our expectations have been lowered, and we appear to be more accepting of the bare minimum of service these days. We’re impressed when a company delivers what they promise, when they promise it. It is sad that this is now seen as exemplary. This should be the minimum we have a right to expect.
You may have heard the story about the Nordstrom employee who cheerfully refunded a customer’s money for a set of tire chains, even though the store doesn’t sell tire chains. Or that LL Bean has a lifetime return or replacement guarantee on any piece of clothing they sell. REI has a similar policy for their store as well. These are fine examples of what we’ve lost.
Large stores have deep pockets
Granted, these national chains can use their scale to help offset their customer service costs. But what about the local independent establishment?
Customer service used to be what set the small businesses apart from the large companies. While many small businesses still claim to offer superior service, what does that really mean? Is it truly backed up by their actions?
Sadly, even many small businesses these days are falling victim to declining service. It’s easier to do the minimum required, especially when that appears to be “good enough”.
Why go the extra mile when it is not expected?
Twenty years ago, one of the driving forces behind Smiley Dog was to “redefine the lost art of customer service”. At the time, we didn’t really know what that meant, but we knew we could do better than what surrounded us.
Over the past decade, we’ve worked to demonstrate how important service is to our company culture. It’s one thing to claim excellent service, it’s quite another to back up those words with deeds and respect for our clients.
The Golden Rule Guarantee is our dependability promise to auto-delivery clients. It guarantees they will not pay for any product that does not get delivered as scheduled, unless they are notified in advance.
No asterisks, excuses or exceptions. If it’s scheduled, it arrives, or you know in advance of any problems. Period. If not, we eat the cost.
Last week we implemented the Golden Rule Guarantee for the first time
One of our clients who is a Treat of the Month Club member placed an order at the end of July. Because he would be out of town on his normal delivery day, he asked that his delivery be delayed by one week. This pushed the delivery into August.
This is an easy enough situation to handle, except we didn’t handle it well. We hadn’t yet chosen the next Treat of the Month when we first scheduled his delivery. And we overlooked that fact when his delivery was made without any Club Treat.
Technically, since he is not an auto-delivery client, the Golden Rule Guarantee does not apply. But we messed up. And actions do speak louder than words. So we decided to invoke our GRG for the first time.
Respect. It’s a small thing, but it feels really good
Now that our Guarantee has been used, we’ve reset the clock and hope our performance will allow it to remain dormant indefinitely. While it’s only one way to back up our claim of fanatical customer service, we remain on a continual quest to improve.
Which reminds me of a quote from another client, whose Mom had wisely counselled her “You can’t perfect perfection.”
I guess we’re not there yet. But we keep trying!