Bad customer service: Don’t get mad. Get even.

February 5, 2009 at 10:45 pm Leave a comment

Sally Saville Hodge

Many years ago, I shocked my then-doctor’s officious nurse when I told her, in setting up my next appointment, that I’d be sending a bill for my time if I was kept waiting for over an hour again. And…by the way…my hourly fee was $200.

After she finished sputtering, she thought about it for a minute. “Okay, let’s get you in first thing in the morning, then, before he has a chance to get backed up.”

I never had to wait again.

Good customer service is, arguably, perhaps one of the most important contributors to a strong brand. It’s integral to the total customer experience that really defines a business’, professional’s or individual’s brand. But this fact must not be getting through. Why else do so many botch it?

We, as consumers, have many, many options on ways to spend the time allotted to us. An hour wasted waiting for the doctor to fit you in, on hold while questioning a bill, or trying to figure out where that order placed three weeks ago has disappeared to is lost forever.

For those that don’t care about their reputation, perhaps hitting them in the pocketbook is action they will appreciate.

It worked for Howard Schaffer. This Colonie, NY publicist found himself without phone service for a full month after moving offices last fall. He used stop-gap measures (borrowing a phone line from his landlord and having employees use their cells) while putting up with promises and excuses. It took an article by the consumer advocacy columnist of the local Times-Union to eventually shame his carrier, One Communications, into fixing it.

Nine apologies, however, were really not sufficient for lost time and, one can assume, lost business. Smartly, he kept careful track of the time and money he expended in trying to resolve the problem. He sent them an itemized bill for $5,481. Incredibly, One Communications paid.

You ask me, they got off cheap. And the rest of us learned how tenacity and moxie (with some help from the media) can pay off.

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Entry filed under: Media Relations, Missteps, Public Relations.

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