There are many things which affect our decision on working with or buying from a company. Our decision can be based on price or previous events.
Sometimes our decision comes from a feeling. Do we feel valued or not?
There are few things which affect our view of a company greater than not feeling valued or beingunappreciated. In fact, my recent experience of a company left me feeling that they were indifferent to my problem with them. Its effect on me has been worse than if they had just been downright hopeless. Staff members who don’t seem to listen or want to understand leave you feeling completely rejected and undervalued.
I really hate poor customer service. In fact, for me poor customer service reflects on the state of the company. If I need to buy anything I want to feel that the company I am buying from appreciates the faith I am placing in them to deliver what I am expecting. Imagine my horror when a brand new pair of shoes I purchased to wear whilst speaking at a conference lost their heel just minutes after I put them on. Still in the hotel lobby I had to dash to my room to change my shoes before greeting my clients. It could have been so much more embarrassing.
It’s not a problem that these things happen, but the ongoing saga of returning and replacing shoes still continues three months later. Not only have the staff been incompetent in dealing with my problem, but their indifference to my situation has made the whole situation worse.
Now I appreciate we are only talking about shoes, although my shoes do portray my brand. The real issue here is staff members not appreciating the bigger picture. You see, I have now spent so much time sorting out the problem that if I calculated it by an hourly rate, they owe me several pairs of shoes. This is just adding to my frustration and poor experience.
JK Rowling once said “Indifference and neglect often do more damage than outright dislike.” I think she could be right because indifference is worse than just poor customer service. This shoe company has answered my calls and emails, albeit slowly, but their lack of interest in solving my problem and making me feel they care, shows they do not value my custom.
So what should they have done? Well, take responsibility to start with. I appreciate that the lady in customer services did not make the shoes. It is not her fault, but neither is it mine. All she needs to do is let me know that she is sorry that this has happened, and that she will ensure the situation is resolved. Then she needs to take responsibility.
For me, staff members need to take responsibility and know that their decisions will be backed up by their managers. It is possible that this company has not allowed their staff to feel empowered and in control of decision making, leaving them to feel it is not worth trying to do anything because they’re likely to get into trouble.
If you want truly engaged staff then you need them to feel safe and secure in what they’re doing. If the staff member on customer services had offered me a full refund or a replacement pair of shoes and a voucher on a future purchase, I might feel much more valued. However, if they thought their manager would not appreciate the decision-making regarding my refund they would be unlikely to make the offer. You see, we learn behaviour and if previous experience tells us that making a decision can lead to consequences we do not like, we will stop making decisions for ourselves. This will lead to customer problems being unresolved.
How do you feel when people just don’t care? You know that feeling when you approach someone and they just have no interest in you? We’ve often had it, haven’t we? That experience where a member of customer service or a front line member of staff in an organisation seems indifference to your request. How does that make you feel? Do you want your customers to have that same experience? I don’t think so. Yet many organisations around the world have staff members who are indifferent to their customers’ or clients’ needs.
To engage your staff you need to appreciate what they need. They often need very simple things to make them feel appreciated and valued as well supported in their work and decision making, so they in turn can make your customers feel valued and appreciated. It’s a two way street.