Customer Service at Eye Level

These days, many companies tout their customer service as nothing but excellent. But when you have to make use of their return policy, you soon find out if they meet you at eye level – or if they see your query as a nuisance that shrinks their profit margin.

Here’s what a friend of mine in Germany experienced recently: After an exhausting, long construction phase, his family home was finally built. All he needed now, for long movie nights at home, was a new LED TV and a matching sound system. So, off he went and bought both in-store. However, his happiness with the brand-new TV was short-lived. After he had mounted the screen to the wall and turned on the device, the TV image was upside down. No change of settings, no new set of cables turned the image in the right position. Over the phone, the company’s service team instructed him to dismantle the TV, wrap it in its original packaging, and bring it back to the store.

So he did and jumped in his car to pick up the replacement. But when he arrived, the sales staff wasn’t very service-oriented. Only after my friend had explained (and demonstrated) in much detail what the issue was with this TV, did they drop their skeptic looks and gave him a replacement. With the new TV in his trunk, my friend eventually made the hour-long drive back home again.

I’m not surprised that he rated the service he received poorly.

From what I see and experience myself, there’s something severely missing from retail: the vision beyond the (digital) counter. Do you know what your customers need when they arrive at home with your product? What type of problems might they have with it in the future? And how do you solve those issues hassle-free and without wasting your customers’ time?

Every business needs to answer those questions holistically and with the big picture in mind. My friend, for example, would have saved much time if the TV settings had been in German, not in English. Also, a friendly “No worries, we’ll pick up the faulty device.” would’ve saved him driven back and forth and much of his frustration. “Service” must be a solid pillar of your brand if you want to keep your foot in the market long-term, let alone increase your market share. The reason is simple: (Un-) happy customers share their experience – online and with their circle of friends.