Sunday, October 22, 2006

Policy vs. Customer Part 2…Customer loses again!

My brother wanted to buy his wife 5 dozen roses for her birthday. He is very busy and frequently out of town. He decided that the easiest method of sending her flowers was to call ProFlowers, an online florist that he has done business with in the past.

He called their 800 number and warned the customer service person that he had had bad service in the past and was giving the company one last chance. She couldn’t find his record and proceeded to take his order.

(WARNING! This next section is going to sound unbelievable but it is EXACTLY what happened!)

He said “I want you to send 5 dozen roses to my wife”
She replied “Sorry Sir, I can only sell you 1 dozen roses”
He: ”What? You won’t sell me 5 dozen roses?”
She: “Sorry, our roses only come in 1 dozen”
He: “Well your website says you have a 2 dozen bouquet”
She “Okay, I can sell you 2 dozen roses”
He: (his patience running extremely thin) “Then sell me TWO 2 dozen bouquets and ONE 1 dozen bouquet. That will add up to five dozen roses”
She: “Well, I will still have to charge you separate shipping on each of these.”

Needless to say he didn’t buy from ProFlowers. He did get a recommendation of a florist, Blossoms, in his neighborhood who was willing and able to sell a five dozen rose bouquet. Even though he ended up spending almost twice as much, he was a VERY happy customer because the experience was easy and the flowers were magnificent.

Every client I share this story with is appalled. Then, I ask them if they have a policy that is similar. The answer is almost always "yes."

Take a long hard look at your policies and get rid of the ones that make it hard to do business with you.

I believe that customers most often care more about EASY than they do about CHEAP.

How can you make it easier for your customer to do business with you?

Laurie Brown, is a professional speaker and author who helps people improve their customer service, sales and presentations skills. For more information on Laurie’s training seminars, books, articles and recordings, please call Laurie at 248.761.7510 or email her at or visit her website

Friday, October 13, 2006

Policy VS. Customer...Customer loses!

Every time receive bad customer service I think...Okay not so bad...I can at least use this story in my class or my blog. Yesterday was no exception.

I called Cingular to find out why my son's phone wasn't working in Berlin Germany. The woman, "Patty" was helpful up to a point. She suggested that I tell my son to power his phone off and on. I was IMing him while speaking to her.

At one point as I was waiting for his response she said "I can't stay on the phone while you put me on hold. It is our policy." I responded "You are not on hold. I am speaking to you. I have to wait to hear back from my son." She repeated herself and I found myself saying things like " I am a REALLY good customer. I have three phones with your company, surely you should be able to stay on the phone while I get info from my son." Apparently I was wrong and she insisted that she had to hang up. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she managed to get my call cut off. By the time I heard the click I was furious.

I called back to speak to a supervisor and the woman who answered asked if she could help. When I explained the issue she apologized and I insisted that I speak to a supervisor (once again!) This time she stayed on the phone while she tried to find one. They were all in a meeting or hiding or something. She tried to get me to their voicemail ..Surprise surprise...It didn't work.

She said that she was going to leave a message and I should hear back withing 24 to 48 hours . Pitiful!!

Perhaps they really do have a policy that says that they can not be put on hold. Okay. But each employee should be empowered to make exceptions. One look at my record should have given me "special status".

However EVERY customer should have "special status". Patty decided that the policy was more important than the customer.

Look at your policies...Are you doing the same thing? Are you choosing to enforce a policy simply because it is a policy? Or are you choosing your customer?

You know what my recommendation is!