Early this morning I received an email asking for me to provide feedback about my customer experience in the Microsoft Store yesterday evening (5/28/15). I was brutally honest. My experience started out well. Everyone was polite as I said in my previous blog post. However, I left dissatisfied because I’d been lied to – whether the Store created the problem or not they did not back up what a Microsoft Tech Support person had told me.
The Store Manager called me later in the morning. I explained everything to him and he offered to replace my Surface Pro 3 from the store inventory. I am having it shipped back to me so that I don’t have to get a ride to the store again (and risk having the same thing happen as before). So the Manager is doing the right thing, what should have been done last night – except why does it take the big boss to solve a problem?
In my previous Blog post on this subject I mentioned my 30 years of customer service experience and that I have trained employees on how to handle customer problems. I have also dealt with my share of situations requiring a manager’s judgment call. There have been times when I did something for a customer that required a bit of explaining to my superiors. But always, if I did the right thing for the customer, even if what I did was not specifically what my supervisor would have done, it was handled as an opportunity to discuss what to do next time anything similar happens. It was never a cause for punishment. Perhaps I’ve been lucky working for enlightened companies that believe in putting the customer ahead of corporate policy, but I kind of think that any successful organization will have people in positions of authority who believe the job of manager is to do everything in his or her power to say yes to a customer.
For future reference – or whatever – here are some basic truths I’ve learned over the years for dealing with customers.
1. Never lie to a customer. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Be honest. Nothing pisses off a customer more than being jerked around – being told one thing and then being told something different or even contradictory. (This was clearly what happened with Microsoft).
2. Be the hero. Take care of the customer at the lowest possible level of authority in the organization. Empower front line employees to make decisions with customer satisfaction in mind.
3. Never argue with a customer and don’t ever cite store policy as an excuse for poor customer service. If a policy gets in the way of taking care of a customer then the policy needs to be modified. If that takes a management decision, then so be it. Get the approval and don’t kick the problem upstairs requiring the customer to explain everything to someone higher up. Be the advocate for the customer, plead their case to your bosses.
4. Customers probably are not always right but that is irrelevant. No one who has worked retail for more than a few days honestly believes customers are always right but customers sure as hell think they are. Knowing that, and that customer will usually win every pissing match if they plead their case high enough up the food chain, why bother creating an artificial barrier that impedes customer satisfaction?
5. A dissatisfied customer will always tell everyone they know about their bad experiences. Unfortunately, very few people hear about the good things that happen in a store. Stores spend millions of dollars advertising to gain a customer’s attention. It only take one bad experience and the ensuing word of mouth to sour ten or more potential customers from ever shopping in a store – because we tend to believe people we now before we believe the hype of advertising.
6. Listen to the customer. Most of the time customers have reasonable expectations. You don’t need to give away the farm. Ask the customer what will satisfy them. (I’m not sure why Microsoft couldn’t have just given me a DVD with the image on it to correct my problem, but apparently that is a huge no-no. That would have saved a whole lot of trouble for everyone, though).
7. Customers expect to be the focus – the center of attention. Treat each one as if they are the only customer in the store because if you don’t soon enough you will have only one customer to take care or – if you are lucky enough still have one.
8. Don’t believe your own bullshit about how great your customer service focus is. As soon as you stop trying to improve the customer experience you will start ignoring what customers want.
9. Actively seek customer feedback. Otherwise you will never know about the problems that were never called to your attention. Don’t be defensive. Respond to customer criticisms as opportunities to learn. Pay attention to what the customer is telling you about his or her experience. You can assume that if one customer is having a problem and alerts you that ten or more have had the same problem and never mentioned it – instead, they are no longer shopping at your store.
10. Never let a customer walk away unhappy. There is an old saying about marriage that you should never go to sleep angry with your spouse. Consider a customer relationship as similar. Also, you almost never get a second chance to close a sale. (I learned this from selling cars). If a customer leave unsatisfied, they are likely never going to return – or if they return it will be after a very long time) If you allow a customer the time to analyze why they were treated unfairly they will build a very good and reasonable case for why somebody needs to be disciplined. (The first thing the Store Manager asked me was who the employee was who didn’t take care of me. Having been on the receiving end often enough, I really didn’t want that to happen but the employee probably needs a re-orientation on customer cultivation discussion or at least how to handle the situation next time).
For the record, I feel much better about Microsoft now. Some of my faith in their customer support has been restored. So the Store Manager did what he needed to do, getting me back in the mindset that if I have a problem they are going to take care of it.
#MicrosoftStore #MicrosoftTechSupport #CustomerSatisfaction #CustomerDissatisfaction #MicrosoftSurfacePro3