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Edition 121 – The Customer Comes Last

When you open up the doors to your business each day, do you ever adopt the strategy the customer comes last?

Do you see the customer as an imposition to your day?

When a customer contacts you, do you give them platitudes, but don’t solve their problems?

Some businesses do. Big business does. Here’s a recent experiences that I’ve had with a large business that has shown their poor attitude to customer service.

Many of you know of the issues we’ve experienced with Telstra in the past 6 months. To recap, they cancelled our ADSL internet service in spite of our express wishes via email and phone not to port our internet service over to the NBN. Low and behold, cancel Telstra did and we experienced 16 weeks of no fixed line internet or fixed line phone service.

When you call Telstra, you’re put through the rigmarole of declaring your full identity before anyone will talk with you. Then, when you do speak with an individual, it is to someone in an offshore call centre who proceeds to run through their standard questions and “solutions”. Instead, if they bothered to read the notes from the 18 hours of phone calls that my wife and I made to Telstra whilst we went through the process of having our internet and phones restored, they’d realise what the issue was and why we rang.

Three weeks ago, we reached a settlement with Telstra in relation to a recovery of additional costs associated with the monumental stuff up that they actually created. Apparently, 25 years of loyal customer service, both privately and in business, is only worth $2 000. So, we’ve taken the $2 000, which, by the way, is a credit, not a cash refund, even though we continued to pay their account for a service they weren’t delivering, and will run the credit off. At the end of that, Telstra will be getting a big fat raspberry and losing a loyal, profitable customer, most likely forever.

My guess is that over 25 years, business and private phone accounts have generated in excess of $350 000 in revenue for Telstra. Apparently, the value of retaining the customer is only worth $2 000

And they wonder why the share price continues to drop?

This is what I learned from our experience of dealing with Telstra:

  1. Listen to the customer and find out why they are unhappy.
  2. Stop assuming you know what the problem is – keep asking “why” until you reach the root cause.
  3. Don’t offer platitudes – it’s patronising.
  4. If the call is recorded for training and quality assurance purposes, then make sure your training is adequate and your quality assurance is superb.
  5. Own the problem and deal with it right until the end.
  6. Don’t fob people off – you’re eroding their trust, thus destroying the relationship.
  7. If you’ve messed up, fess up. Then, if you need to, compensate them.
  8. Go above and beyond if you need to restore the relationship.
  9. Sometimes, the relationship has come to an end. If that’s the case, deal with it respectfully – and thank them for their business.

This Week’s Tip

“Relationships are forged on trust. When the trust is broken, so is the relationship. Build trust and then do everything possible to maintain it.”