Contracts were once sealed with a handshake. People looked you in the eye and when they said something they meant it. If they said they would put you in touch with another person, they did so and they did it promptly. If they were to deliver you goods and services, they did it on time, for the money they said and with a smile. They were interested in earning your trust and your business for the long term – these people understood the lifetime value of dealing with you as a customer. They knew that word of mouth was the best possible marketing they could have. Before there was Yelp and all of these other recommendation services that we have today, their was just good old word of mouth.
What the hell has happened to lifetime value and companies that actually do it in a meaningful way? Apple does it, Amazon does it, many a local retailer does it. But what about all of the other critical to your life – your bank, your insurance company, utility companies, cable companies, in-home service providers; the list is endless. When was the last time you got off the phone with a customer service rep and said “Wow, that was a great experience, I cannot wait to tell someone about it”. It just does not happen.
Here are two recent examples that I can provide that are just pathetic. A friend of mine had a small accident. She had been a customer of said insurance company for 15+ years. When they checked her record they found that her premium was overdo. They immediately cancelled the policy and wanted to charge her over $1,000 to re-instate the policy. Well paying and profitable customer for 15 years and they want to charge her to re-instate the policy. After many calls and complaints, she finally found someone that was empowered and could make the right decision. The issue here of course is that she had to invest considerable time, energy and frustration to even find the person at the company who could do something about it.
More recently my own auto insurance company tries the following. I was one day late on my November payment; all other payments had been made on time and I have been a customer of theirs for two years. Last night I received a cancellation notice including a $25 cancellation fee stating that if I did not pay the next installment on time the policy would be cancelled. What are the chances that I would even recommend this company to anyone? Answer – ZERO!
I don’t know about you but when I tell someone I am going to do something I do it. Over the last couple of weeks, I have received specific commitments from individuals to set up meetings with other individuals at their companies or to respond to a business proposal. They said “I will set up a meeting on Thursday” or “I will get back to you on Monday”. Guess what, it is now two weeks later and after multiple e-mails, phone calls and text messages, do you think I have heard from these people? NOPE!
What on earth is so hard in this connected society to just send a quick message and say “Change of plans, the meeting cannot happen until this date” or “I am sorry, we cannot proceed at this time”. What ever happened to living up to your own personal commitments? Doing what you say you are going to do? Taking responsibility? When did the basic principles of relating to other people change? Although we live in a “Me” society today, the “Me’s” have lost most of the basic relationship and customer service etiquette that the “We’s” expect.
Not good at all.
Please let me know what types of customer experiences you have had recently. Share them in your comments. I am hopeful that you have good and bad examples.
Enjoy the day.