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Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Promise of Service 

face2face: Customer service or the lack thereof

I find myself disagreeing with Sue Pelletier, who posts at the face2face blog.

She notes:

I heard an ad on the radio this morning that cut through my "I need more coffee" fog like a Jedi lightsaber. The company, which helps keep basements dry, says, "We answer our phones. We return our messages. And we show up for appointments." That's their big marketing message--we actually do the bare minimum any company could possibly do in terms of customer service.

Because my wife and I are suffering through some home remodeling, the promise of service from this type of company would be a welcome relief. I'd make the call and put the promise to the test.

While Sue is right that it's a shame to be proud of promising minimal service, the reality is that service these days is generally less-than-minimal. Just getting the basics right is a big step up.

And that's one of the roots of the problem of getting a prospect to take a call or a meeting with a salesperson, a struggle my friend Dave Jung is having. Sure, all salespeople should be brilliant, great listeners and problem solvers. But they're not. So people avoid them. So how about a promise?

"Allow us to talk to you directly. We'll be brief. We promise that we'll listen carefully to your needs, and offer solutions, not try to push products we need to sell. If we can't help you, we'll be honest with you, and refer you to companies who can help you."

Offer some sort of 'penalty' if you break your promise--$15 in cash or coupon (or something like this) to compensate for the prospect's time. Offer a benefit if you keep your promise, as well--preferential pricing, free consulting time.

Yes, it's sad to have to promise things like respect for time, respect for the client's needs or basic service levels. But it's sadder not to promise--or deliver--on these.

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