“Your wait will be four minutes. Thank you for your patience.”
All I wanted was to buy a pair of pants from the Territory Ahead catalog, which I had recently received at my home. I am “old school.” I prefer to talk to a person when I order goods.
I do not give a credit card number in an online transaction, less out of fear of it being compromised than dealing with my vision, which is always compromised.
It was 9:45 last Friday night. I expected the call to take 10 minutes, 15 tops. After four minutes, the automatic response came back and promised I would be waited on in four minutes. No progress, but I put the phone on speaker and looked at the Wall Street Journal that I had not read. Five minutes later the phone voice announced the wait would be four minutes! Ok, I was invested in the process so I continued to wait. The next announcement was hopeful, 2 minutes until liftoff, when a real person would take my order. I had considered buying some t-shirts, which were on sale, but by now I had rejected that whimsical purchase.
The voice interrupted my reverie, “15 seconds” it said. Nirvana was imminent. Except it wasn’t. Three minutes later the voice repeated that a person would appear in 15 seconds. And so it continued for another 20 minutes.
My anger was growing by the second. I decided there was no way I was buying a thing from this disgusting, frustrating incompetent firm, but I was going to hold on until a real person answered so I could deliver my welling fury.
Finally, an answer from a person. But the person failed to even acknowledge the ridiculous wait. He was from some call center in India or the Philippines reading from a script.
I exploded into my rant and hung up. Then I called up a competing apparel catalog and ordered some khakis from a lady who talked to me with a pleasant southern drawl.
It was a lesson from customer service 101. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. If you drop the ball, immediately own up to your shortcomings. A client will accept a deficiency if corrected. Everybody hates to be lied to, especially by a machine.
In customer service every detail is important, but above all the customer must have faith in the honesty and commitment of the seller of goods and services.
We all mess up in our work. This blog may have a typo or a grammatical error, but we work very conscientiously to catch every mistake. You have inspection machines and quality control departments. But your client will occasionally catch a mistake. How you handle the error may determine the future of your business, because it is your ultimate signature.
To live is to screw up. To own up and quickly correct is the mark of integrity and allows for the possibility of success.
Question: What are your best and worst experiences with retailers?