Posts Tagged ‘poor service’

In this day and age, in an economy that is showing signs of staggering back to its feet, in a world where competition for the entertainment and hospitality dollar is wide and varied, it is amazing to me that establishments that cater to the public can provide ridiculously poor service, at any time.  But when poor service is mixed with bad attitude and stupidity, that my friends is the golden trifecta.

My colleague Jaime is president of the American Marketing Association of Southeastern New England, (AMASNE) and in the role, frequently hosts networking events with a substantial number of people who, not surprisingly, market for a living.

So an event is held at STATE Ultra Lounge, apparently one of Providence’s hot spots for the late night dance crowd. ¬†When Jaime called that morning to confirm, they asked if she would, umm, reschedule her event. After Jaime gently but firmly convincing them to honor their agreement and open for the sake of preregistered guests, STATE ¬†charged Jaime’s group an outrageous sum of money for less-than-exquisite hors d’oeuvres such as¬†chicken fingers and pigs in blankets that could have easily been purchased from BJ’s for $20. Jaime told me “As a business owner and marketing professional, I am bewildered and appalled.”

And here is that three-way intersection of crap service, attitude, and ignorance. STATE was mad that they had to open their doors when they otherwise would not.  AMASNE had a small but dedicated following who had already registered, but apparently not a big enough group to satisfy STATE so they gouged on the food deal.  Duh. Not exactly a smart way to treat a room full of marketers.  People who influence buying decisions, for a living.

So because of this incident, it goes without saying that AMASNE is not planning on any further events  at STATE, nor will any of the group of marketers who attended the event likely be spreading any good words about the Ultra Lounge.

Now, I’m no genius (you’ve probably noticed), but it seems to me that if a restaurant / lounge / bar / whatever… is reserving a room for a group of marketing professionals, you might want to do something to ensure that they have a great freakin’ time. ¬†Because if you DO ensure that they have a great freakin’ time, then they will send traffic your way. ¬†Not interwebs kinda traffic – real traffic! ¬†People with money traffic.

Let us consider for a moment that a personal recommendation is twice as influential as even the best advertising, and even an impersonal recommendation (from a stranger) is 50% more influential.

So this was what the young folks call “an opportunity” ¬†for STATE. ¬†A really nice one, served up on a silver platter.

And they blew it.


Guess again.  Does the number 83,000,000,000 mean anything to you?  Because that is the number of US dollars LOST annually by US businesses because of substandard customer service.

83 billion.  Dollars.  Lost.  Each year.

Let that sink in a little bit. ¬†You ever read the newspaper, or watch the news on TV? ¬†Or you cool young people… you ever check the news sites on the Interwebs? ¬†You might have run across something in the past few years about a “recession.” Ring any bells? ¬†The economy sucks, if you’ll pardon the vernacular. ¬†It has sucked for a few years now. ¬†You know it. ¬†I know it.

Which is why it is astounding to me (and presumably to other clear-thinking individuals) that American businesses money down the toiletcan¬†¬†piss away $83 billion a year, just because they can’t be bothered to provide excellent service to their customers. ¬†And it’s not just American businesses! ¬†In sixteen key economies worldwide, businesses are losing $338 billion each year as a direct result of a poor customer service experience.

Where do I get these incredible figures? ¬†From studies¬†on US and Global service issues done by Genesys, with research firm Greenfield Online and Datamonitor/Ovum analysts, late last year and released earlier this year. ¬†Think the data is outdated? ¬†I don’t. ¬†Trust me, problems of this proportion do not just turn themselves around in a year.

Because I am an American citizen and businessperson, I am going to stick to the US findings of this study. ¬†I have no desire to set off an international incident by commenting on service issues in other countries. ¬†Oh, I already have? ¬†Sorry. ¬†Nonetheless, I want to break down some more of this study for you. ¬†My goal in doing this is to knock some common sense upside the heads of US businesses who simply talk about the importance of customer service, or have the audacity to thump their chests and claim they provide world-class service. ¬†(Back to that global study for a second… the term “world-class” may not be such a hot ticket anymore when discussing service matters!)

71% of US consumers have ended business relationships due to one thing: poor service. ¬†61% of those consumers have taken their business to a competitor, while the other 39% were so turned off by their negative experiences that they said “Screw it!” and decided not to purchase at all. ¬†Now, we are talking about, on average, $289 in lost revenue for each customer who walks. ¬†Businesspeople! ¬†Yeah, I’m still talking to you! ¬†Can you really afford to throw this money away, or better yet, give it over to your competition? ¬†You want to whine about the economy, and how the government hasn’t done enough to quell the recession? ¬†People, you are causing your OWN recession by neglecting your customers! ¬†Do you get that?

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time working in, and with, contact centers. ¬†They are famous for collecting useless data on things like Average Handle Time, and Speed of Response Time. ¬†Whereas, fewer than 33% of businesses measure revenue per contact! ¬†People! ¬†Revenue is where it’s at! ¬†Nobody cares about that your call center gets customers on and off a call in less than 2 minutes. ¬†Nobody really cares that you answer most of your calls by¬†the¬†second ring. ¬†You’re a business, right? ¬†The single most important aspect of each contact is, did the customer feel good enough to spend his or her money with you?

I don’t care what your product or service is. ¬†You are not unique. ¬†Customers can go elsewhere for whatever they need. If you are fortunate enough that they come to you, then you must do everything in your power to ensure that they do not regret that decision. ¬†They are not going to give you their money – especially in the midst of a crappy economy! – if they are not treated well. ¬†Do I really need to tell you this, in 2010? ¬†Apparently, I do. ¬†There are 83 billion reasons why I do, each year!

So, before I completely blow a gasket here, discussing the amount of money and number of customers American businesses are so cavalierly tossing aside, let’s talk about what can be done about this, to stem this awful tide.

Of course, each business and each industry has its own problems, and it would be foolish to suggest a one size fits all solution. ¬†However, this study does indicate that there are certain areas of commerce that really need attention. ¬†So, businesspeople, if you start by assessing your business’ success (or lack of same) with these areas, you are well on your way to not only improving your service, but also hiking up your annual revenue. ¬†Hmmm? ¬†Sound good to you?

Customers tend to want these four things, above all others (note that price is NOT one of them!):

  • They want competent service reps. ¬†People who speak clearly and courteously, and know their company’s products & services. ¬†This begs my eternal question – why do so many businesses consider customer service reps to be an entry level, low-paying position? ¬†These people are your front line! ¬†The face of your company! ¬†Geez, doesn’t that mean anything to you? ¬†First impressions are crucial. ¬†Spend the money to hire well and train well!
  • They want convenience. ¬†Some customers like the phone, while others prefer email. ¬†Some like online chat. ¬†Hell, some even still like to fax things! ¬†Even if they want to communicate by smoke signals or¬†semaphore, they are¬†the¬†customer, so they should be able to communicate whatever way is most convenient to them. ¬†Limiting the channels of communication is limiting the amount of business you have.
  • They want proactive service. ¬†Customers do not like feeling like they are idiots. ¬†You know your business, right? ¬†You know from experience what types of stumbling blocks there are in your industry. ¬†So don’t wait for problems to occur, and then act all surprised, like, “wow, that never happened before!” ¬†Anticpate the problems! ¬†Step up and help the customer before he or she needs help. ¬†Don’t be obnoxious about it, and don’t be a pest about it. ¬†Just be there to anticipate their needs.
  • They want personalized service. ¬†Nobody wants to just be a number, a statistic in your daily sales report. ¬†They want to feel as though their business is appreciated. ¬†Now, we all know it is not feasible to know every customer’s name and their likes and dislikes. ¬†However, every customer can be treated like a friend – all it takes is a little bit of effort. ¬†And those customers who do a lot of repeat business, and/or refer their friends? ¬†Those are the people you whose names and likes/dislikes you should know!

OK, enough of this for now. ¬†I’m going to calm down, and you are going to think long and hard about what I’ve said here today. ¬†You are going to decide that you need to ramp up your service delivery, and make your customers glad that they are doing business with you, rather than that mook up the street. ¬†If you need help with this, contact me. ¬†I may have to kick your butt, but will do so only to improve your service, and therefore, your business.