Customer Service Catastrophes Cost Customers

*The following story is true and the names of the participants have been withheld to protect the guilty…umm, the innocent.

Over the last week and a half, I have gotten a chance to sit in the backseat and watch as a friend of mine got caught up in some of the most basic mistakes of customer service.  My friend (let’s call him George) recently bought a brand new vehicle and initially got a loan from the dealership but planned to transfer the loan to his usual bank where he’s been a customer for decades. 

George talked to a bank representative and got all the paperwork in order for the loan transfer.  The interest rate was great, he was supposed to get a huge rebate, everything looked good…until he got the phone call.

A different representative of the bank called him asking him for more information which he in turn gave.  The next day, he got another phone call from the bank with a representative asking for more information.  Then a third time, a representative called asking for information. 

George was getting frustrated.  He’d already given them all the information that they were asking for in the phone calls and they were trying to quote him a higher interest rate and a lower loan amount than what was originally settled upon.  The next representative that called certainly got an ear-full.  Poor George had had enough with getting the run-around and he let the representative know it. 

George got passed from person to person until finally getting to talk to someone who had answers.  Come to find out, the initial person that George had spoken to in the beginning wasn’t even a loan officer!  He misled George and then fouled up the paperwork which cascaded into multiple phone calls and a very angry, confused George.

George calmed down after finding out what happened and admitted that he certainly was in the wrong for chewing on the wrong people for that first guy’s blunder. 

However, the bank made another customer service mistake—they intentionally delayed calling George again when they had the paperwork fixed.  They promised a phone call at a specific time and delayed an entire day. 

George shrugged it off saying that he deserved it since he chewed the bank representatives out pretty hard.  However, that doesn’t make it any less of a bad business practice.  If you make a promise to contact a person at a certain time, you do it, even if it’s just to say that you’re still working on the problem and it will take some more time.

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is:

Train your employees so catastrophes (like George’s experience) don’t happen. Do things right the first time and everybody’s happy. 

The second moral of the story is that even though you may get abused by a customer, do not abuse them back whether it’s verbally or by simply ignoring them, putting them in a sort of “customer time-out.”  It’s not helpful and not everyone is as loyal a customer as George. 

Never forget:  Catastrophes Cost Customers.

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