Loyalty Starts With You

Published on October 2, 2004

As a leader, you set the direction for your team, company and customer. You set expectations and provide the tools for meeting them. If you don’t have the right tools, watch out. The damage from falling short of expectations will be far worse than not getting the business to begin with.

Here is an example. Two years ago, my wife and I bought a motorized awning for our deck. To this date it works well. However, we would love to have it checked out and make sure it is still properly secured after the heavy storms we have had lately. In April, we thought our questions were answered. The company that sold us the awning sent out a spring special to have the awning checked and maintained for a low price. My wife immediately calls the number, but nobody answers the phone. So, she leaves a message on their voice mail.

Two weeks go by and still no response. She calls again and leaves another message. On her third call, she finally got someone on the phone who assures her that all messages will be returned. Obviously this employee was trained in the School of Customer Dissatisfaction.

It gets better. My wife now turns to me to call and do the dirty work. So, I called the President and got no response. On my third call, the secretary finally answers, takes a message and promises to call me back in a few minutes. After not hearing from her for a few weeks, I call her back and leave a stern message.

My wife then calls again, gets the same woman and she asks, is your husband Ron Karr? My wife says yes. The secretary says she got our messages but, there is nothing she can do. They were so swamped with the mailing, they cannot handle the overflow.

To this date, this is all we have. I cannot believe companies do this to their customers. This is blatantly a case of dis-service and this company does not have long to live if it continues along this course of behavior. This marketing special was created by some executive who probably wanted to push revenues in a slow season which can turn into leads for new sales. Instead, this program failed miserably. Yes, they may have filled up their service schedule. But how many people now are hearing about this story? How many referrals have they received from us? How many people did we tell to stay away from this company?

Undoubtedly, if you are reading this letter, you are not guilty of such blatantly poor customer service. But don’t rest easy, either. If you in any way have over reached your abilities and cannot meet the expectations you set for your customers, you might inadvertently produce the same results of customer dissatisfaction and defection.Customer Loyalty? It all starts with meeting and exceeding expectations.

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