For Christmas last year my wife surprised me with the coolest gift – a remote control helicopter. After a short period to charge the batteries, I began the process of learning how to maneuver the tiny craft around the house. I’ll be honest, the learning curve was steeper than I thought and I hit a lot of walls and crashed into just about everything and everyone. By the next day it was inoperable so I went to their website to see what my options were. My assumption was that it should be under warranty and they’d send me a new one. Their website states, “to get a replacement all you need to do is fill out this form and one of our team members will review your request and process your return.” Well that wasn’t really the case. Their process puts most of the cost on the customer and I’m not so sure they had any intention of providing a replacement.
We have all had experiences similar to this. It could be anything like the claims of a co-worker that he would have the report to you by tomorrow morning and it’s several days before you see it, or a retail store that claims to have the lowest prices only to find the product you just purchased is at their competitor for a much lower price, or the waiter who cannot get your order right to save his life and is offended when you tell him. Plain and simple, it’s bad customer service. And nothing can drive your customers away quicker than bad customer service.
I had the privilege of working at Callaway Golf during the heyday of the company from the mid 1990’s into mid 2000’s. I started while Mr. Callaway was still alive and running the company and I must say those were good times indeed! One of my many take-a-ways from Mr. C. was that he understood the value of good customer service and made sure everyone knew the simple formula to providing it at every level of the organization – it is to under promise and over deliver. Remember, just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. What does it mean to under promise in a culture that values hubris and self-promotion at any and every opportunity and the super-sizing everything? It means you check your ego at the door; you don’t oversell yourself, your product, or your future. Why make outlandish claims to make yourself look good, to get the sale, or protect your pride if you cannot deliver? It’s folly! However, it’s important to note that under promise has to be complimented by over deliver. If you only get one of these right, be sure it’s over deliver. So what does it look like to over deliver? It’s looks like the co-worker who said he’d have the report ready for you by tomorrow afternoon and it’s on your desk first thing in the morning. It looks like the retail store with a process in place to monitor their competitor’s prices to make sure their prices truly are lowest. It looks like the waiter who brings you a complimentary dessert because he already knew he didn’t get your order right and you didn’t have to say a word.
Running your commitments and marketing and business strategies through this simple grid will not just save your company from a bad reputation and ultimately a loss of customers, it will build a loyal customer base because you will be, as Mr. C put it, “pleasingly different and demonstrative superior.”