People do things out of…

  • Love
  • Fear
  • Greed
  • Hate
  • Pleasure
  • Hope
  • Principle
  • Laziness

any other reasons?



What happens when your customer goes POP?

ImageYou know that moment when as a customer you go POP – when you’ve reached your P**s Off Point!

What does it mean?  It means that for whatever reason (be it cost, time overruns, loss of the creative muse, a breach of trust or confidence, being ignored, fobbed off with excuses) your customer makes a momentous decision. That now is the time to move on, to search for and find another supplier.

If things are really bad, that may well include a decision to change; even if the new supplier is not quite as good, is a bit more expensive, doesn’t exactly do the ideal job…but emotionally your client is at the stage where almost anything is better than having to continue to deal with the existing supplier.

Well – can I give you an example?

We have been using a particular suppliers accounting software and payroll for over 10 years (let’s name them as Intuit and Quickbooks).  In that time we’ve put up with;

  • new versions, which entail a bunch of work on our part to configure to do what the previous version did
  • having to re-learn how to use the stuff
  • a software purchase fee, which morphed into a vastly increased monthly charge and resulted in a huge argument with a Customer Service rep when we found that new customers were charged considerably less than we were being charged, before getting it reduced
  • and today…well today the damn payroll table wouldn’t update and Intuit Customer Service essentially tried to blackmail us into having to pay them to get the answer (‘…all software has bugs and you need to pay £50 or £10 per month for us to fix it…’)

I’m afraid I sense a pattern here – this is an organisation that relies on us finding it more difficult to move away from them and thus reluctantly accepts what seems like an unceasing effort to extract more money from us.

The Intuit Customer Service reps may be polite, but that just seems to be a mask; underneath is an organism only interested in itself and existing to feed off its unsuspecting customers.

Today was the day that we went POP. Tomorrow we start to find an alternative (any suggestions?)

And Intuit – if this is your status quo, then sooner or later you may have to face up to the reality, nasty companies eventually get found out.

And you dear reader…what would you do if your customers went POP on you?

Why oh why did I believe you?

What can you do when your expectations aren’t met?

This should have been a simple tale – find a product you want (in my case a new tripod for our video camera so we can video our workshops). Then choose a supplier (on the web…and my choice was nannotec, trading as fstopdirect), place an order and expect delivery within the time they specify (and that was for last Friday, the 17th Feb). Then wait for delivery.

Which doesn’t happen. So Monday morning (yesterday the 20th Feb) I send an email asking when to expect delivery. Here is the key part of the very helpful response;

...i have just spoken to Yodel and they will deliver your order today...

And here is my email to nannotec earlier today (as it is now Tuesday the 21st Feb);

“I really should have known better, from previous experience, that whenever Yodel is named as the courier, there is little point in believing what I’m told. And yet, you seemed so confident and capable; I fully expected to receive the tripod…even at 9.00pm yesterday I was still waiting. But nothing, no delivery, no card, no call…nothing.

I do have a real reason for needing this item and that is for 12.00 today, But the chances of getting it by then must be nil. After which it really doesn’t matter.

Thing is this also reflects badly on your firm. You choose who you use to deliver your products, they are a key part of the experience and having let me down, I will find it difficult to trust you or recommend you to anyone else. Even though I get the sense that you are passionate about what you do and care about the products you sell.

And once again, I have to look at myself and wonder why I tend to believe the best of people; I’m sorely tempted to change my world view and start to become a more cynical disbeliever. Every experience like this points me in that direction. But I will continue to fight against it, as I couldn’t do my job if I felt that way. And deep down, I know that people aren’t the problem; it’s the way they are managed, the way their systems have been developed and the way they are encouraged to simply lie when in a tight spot. Thing is though, that ultimately reflects on them as individuals anyway.”


Fstopdirect pulls put all its stops

Around 11.00am I got a call from Jessica at fStopdirect to say that Yodel couldn’t find the package, so she was arranging for a colleague to deliver another tripod to me at 12.00.

Wonderful. So I’m now just waiting for it to appear…Which it does as I type.

Many many thanks to Jessica and her customers services manager for living up to and beyond my expectations.

Now you are stars. Long may you shine

When Customer Service goes Good…its Genuine

I know that recently I’ve been blogging about customer service that goes wrong and what its like to be at the end of it 😦

Well, for a change, I’ve had a really good experience that it is worth exploring.

It started with a crack in my car’s windshield.  Which lead to a call to my insurer – Swiftcover.  My call was handled promptly and compassionately.  The customer service rep knew what to do, asked the necessary questions, was polite and kept checking back to confirm that he had heard what I’d said and that he understood me.  Couldn’t be faulted, even down to working through a set of possible times and dates for when the Windscreen could be replaced…on site.

The only odd note, was that a couple of times I was put on hold and got the ‘hold music’ thing; which was punctuated by adverts for AA insurance…but I’m with Swiftcover!  Maybe they outsource their windscreen replacement service desk to AA?

Then today, AA AutoWindshields arrive to do their stuff.  What I really appreciated was that the technician (don’t know his name but his Staff Number is 83073) behaved in a genuine manner.  By that I mean that in addition to getting on and doing his job professionally and competently, he was also genuinely happy to answer my questions and generally seemed to want to interact with me as a real person.  Even down to a ‘thank you’ and a handshake when he had finished.

And really, what more do you want from customer service, than professionalism, competence and a genuine person dealing with you and being happy to treat you as another human being.

So congratulations to AA Windshields for allowing at least one member of your staff to behave as if he actually cares about what he does and the people he comes into contact with.

Why do some other firms make it so difficult to be human…and genuine?

So you want to build trust?

ImageWe read a lot about the absence of trust, the extent to which trust has been eroded in society today and the need for organisations and their leaders to work to regain the trust they supposedly had.  At the weekend I had an interesting conversation (via Twitter) with Craig Sands and colleagues at The Chrysalis Group about trust and being trustworthy.

I said that I would share a model of trust building that I’ve created over the past few months – this is it above.  As you can see there are three elements that need to link if trust is to be developed – Mutual Dependence (to what extent do we need each other?), Mutual Alignment (to what extent doe we share views) and Mutual Respect (to what extent do we like each other).

These in turn are routed in our cultural norms (and so our willingness to enter into trusting relationships will vary between cultures) and our personal readiness to invest the necessary time and effort in building trust and behaving in trustworthy ways.

You can also see that making a start requires one of the parties to take a risk – e.g. to share their needs, their goals and values and/or the extent to which they are prepared to listen to the others.

And that element of initial risk taking can be the most difficult to achieve.  But of course the only thing more risky than taking that first step is to not take it.  And therefore never start on a journey that may lead to the undoubted benefits greater trust brings to us, our live and that of our colleagues, customers, friends and families.

Is this for real? The insurance may be good but the customer service isn’t

Elephant InsuranceMy wife has recently gone through the process of taking out car insurance – doing what we are recommended to do i.e. checking out the prices on the comparison websites and making her choice.

Which meant she changed her insurer…something millions of us do every year.  And very simple it was too.  End of story?

Not really.  Yesterday she received a letter from Elephant, her previous insurer.  The letter stated ‘your card issuer could not pay our application…’  i.e. they had tried to automatically renew the policy and hadn’t been paid.

It continued ‘…Please contact us within 7 days to give us alternative card details for us to collect the overdue payment.  Unless you provide us with alternative details your policy may be cancelled.’

She could have left it at that, but being a good citizen she phoned Elephant (on their 8p a minute 0871 number!) and then had a bizarre conversation with the customer services rep (btw these reps must just have such a sh*t job – having to enforce ridiculous company policies that just go totally against fair play and common decency…so don’t blame the rep, blame the company).

The essence of the conversation was that the rep said that we, Elephant need to charge you a cancellation fee.

You can probably imagine the response.  Ludicrous and outrageous.  A scam; were some of the words I heard.

And it is…I can quite understand and appreciate that insurers do automatic renewals if the customer does not contact them and basically that seems like a sensible policy.

I can also understand that they have rules for cancellation fees, when the policy is cancelled part way through the period.

But I cannot understand why they should expect a cancellation fee when the customer has already bought  a policy from another insurer.  And in this day and age, when the UK has a database of insured cars, why the insurer cannot check up on that database to see who the car is  insured with.

Of course, the rep eventually said that the fee would be waived…and could she return the policy documents…which would be possible if they hadn’t already been sent to the recycling centre.

My plea to insurers and other companies is; Free your staff to do what they think is right, that fits with decency and common sense and don’t force your petty rules and straight jacket processes onto them.

Its a shame that the rep couldn’t have approached this in a more accommodating manner and perhaps started from the hypothesis that the customer is probably okay, not a child to be scolded or a mine to be shafted and money extracted come whatever.