Are You Growing Raving Fans Through Vigilant Customer Service?
I have a friend who believes we’re living in a simulation. When coincidences like this happen, I’ve got to admit, I start thinking ‘hmmmm.’
I was just reading an article from my friend Chris Brogan in which he described his roller coaster relationship with Allbirds. I’ll let you read his article on your own, but suffice it to say that he started out a fan. Thanks to a less-than-stellar customer service experience, a fan he is no more.
In the minutes before reading the article, I had received an email from the customer service department of Queensboro.com, an online custom apparel company with whom I had recently completed an order.
I’ve ordered from Queensboro.com before. They provide a great selection of high quality apparel on which you can place your custom embroidery. Their pricing is very reasonable and there are no minimums! Plus, they provide a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Which, until today, had been purely theoretical.
The email from the customer service department was just one very simple Yes/No question – “Was the order perfect?”
In this case, I had ordered two custom pullover quarter-zip shirts. I had ordered them in XL. They turned out to be too big. So, if I was being honest, the order was not perfect. It wasn’t their fault – I had ordered the XL with both eyes open – but it wasn’t perfect.
So I clicked on the ‘No’ option and was taken to a webpage that apologized and promised to make things perfect. They asked for a brief explanation of what had gone wrong. I explained the sizing issue, and was very clear that I did not consider this their fault. I had ordered the size I had received. I just misjudged.
I clicked ‘Submit’ and went back to reading Chris’ article. He described the hoops he was forced to go through when his brand-new Allbird shoes had developed a hole in the toe. He was asked to send them back so that Allbird could inspect them and decide whether or not a replacement pair was justified. The process took weeks. Needless to say, he was not happy. Unhappy enough that he was swearing off Allbirds for good.
A few minutes later, as I finished the article, a new email arrived in my inbox. A real person from the customer service department at Queensboro.com had replied, again apologizing for my inconvenience, and asking me what size I would like. They told me they would be sending me out a replacement, at no charge, and that there was no need to send back the wrong-sized shirts. I should keep them, donate them, or dispose of them however I choose.
This whole process with Queensboro.com took less than five minutes. They had lived up to their ‘No Returns Necessary Guarantee.’ They didn’t make me jump through hoops. And they solidified my position as a loyal fan.
But this is also a great example of how vigilance can help stave off complacency and, in turn, can keep customer relationships strong. Here are three ways Queensboro.com is demonstrating vigilance:
- Awareness of Potential Threats. What is a major threat for a custom embroidery apparel company? The fear potential customers have regarding how the design will turn out in reality and how the apparel will look and fit once received. It’s not like a custom embroidered shirt can be returned and sold to someone else! So, if you are aware of that threat, how do you proactively combat it? You create a ‘No Return Necessary Guarantee.’ You take all the risk from the customer. And then you make sure you live up to the promise.
- Accountability. Queensboro.com is upfront and public about what they are promising. Most other companies publish long and restrictive return policies in small print. Not Queensboro.com. Their policy is front and center and simple: “No Returns Necessary Guarantee: If you’re ever unhappy with anything you buy from us, just let us know and we will redo the order or issue a full refund. You don’t even need to send back the old merchandise. How easy is that!“
- Autonomy. The customer service agent did not have to get approval to do the replacement order. They didn’t have to go through an automated system that provided automated, controlled responses. They sent a real email from a real person with a real name. And they did it quickly. When I responded back with the revised size, the customer service agent replied within a couple of minutes to let me know the colors I originally had ordered were out of stock in that size and to ask if I would be able to choose from their other colors. I responded back with new colors and they confirmed immediately. Not only did this quick, unencumbered dialogue ensure a positive customer experience, I’m sure it also provided satisfaction to the customer service agent and, in turn, added to that agent’s job engagement.
Needless to say, I’m a satisfied and loyal customer of Queensboro.com. I encourage you to check them out if you’re ever in need of custom embroidered apparel.
And I encourage you to think about how you handle your own customer service. Have you been lulled by success into over-confidence that has led to complacency and places your most valuable customer relationships at risk? Or do you remain vigilant, ensuring you are protecting the success you’ve worked so hard to achieve?
If you’d like to learn more about the dangers of complacency and how you can identify it and fight it with vigilance (at work and at home), check out my new book Be Vigilant! Strategies to Stop Complacency, Improve Performance, and Safeguard Success. The hardcover is currently on sale at Amazon!
Until next time, Be Vigilant!