What is world class customer service?

Written October 18th, 2008 by
Categories: CEO's Blog
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I had a terrible dining experience this week that really got me to thinking about customer service and why I love being a part of b2b2dot0.

First the horror story.

As much as I love the town of Clarksville, VA , and try and give it all of the leeway possible, dinner at the  Lake House Restaurant this week was a disaster.  We had to wait forever for our appetizer to arrive, when we ran out of bread for the spinach artichoke dip and asked for more, it took another forever to receive soggy toast slices in return. 

When the main course finally arrived it was cold and the onions that we specifically banned from the dish, made an appearance nevertheless.  Waiting for the check was another exercise in keeping our blood pressure under control.  When the conciliatory free round of beers showed up as a line item on the check, we just about flipped our lids!  Then there was the fiasco about not being able to reprint the credit card receipt etc, etc. etc.  If all of that wasn't enough to have us storming out of our little Clarksville retreat, the owner, Archie, obliviously greeted us as we were leaving and with boastful pride asked us "how was your dinner?" 

How could the owner of such a small restaurant be so out of touch with what was going on?  I'm not sure.  But I know what I expect of him…and it's not much.  Anticipate my needs and relentlessly pursue satisfying them.  And if for whatever reason you can't please me, do your best to make it up to me so that I'll get over this transgression and give you another chance.  On this evening, Archie did neither.

Now the b2b2dot0 approach.

An important feature of our website is the ability for customers to enter special instructions for their orders.  Maybe they want to make sure that deliveries aren't made on Thursday of next week.  Maybe they want you to call them before you send out the invoice.  Maybe they would prefer that you pack the items in this order in one big box.  Whatever. 

For this feature to work, the field that we provide on the website needs to be mapped to an appropriate field in SAP so that folks in the warehouse, accounting etc. can receive (and hopefully act upon) these notes. 

We implemented this feature and mapped it to an appropriate field in our client's SAP system.  Unfortunately, it was going to take them several weeks to take that SAP field and map it to the appropriate reports in the warehouse.  (Things always happen slowly in the SAP world!) Until they did that, some of these notes were falling between the cracks.  Customers were entering them, but no one in the factory was receiving them.  That's bad customer service.  Both between our client and their customers and therefore, between us and our client.

We immediately deployed a new feature in our service to send an alert to our client anytime their customer entered any data in any of these text fields.  Until they could permanently solve their internal SAP configuration challenge, we would at least help them get the job done. 

I think that's great customer service!

The second scenario revolves around the expansion of our service to the next wave of our client's customers. 

Because we're not just a software vendor, but a services partner, we feel it's our mission to make the overall eCommerce experience a delight for everyone.  Having been made aware of the fact that up to 22,000 customers would potentially receive invitations to come to our website in the coming weeks…yes that was 22,000!…we thought we could provide some value to this process.

As of the time of this writing, I'm not exactly sure what we're going to do to assist in that transition, but at the very least, we've organized a planning session to make sure we're all prepared for this and working as smart and as efficiently as we can.

There is no additional charge for this level of attention and there are no additional products to purchase.  This level of customer service is a tangible manifestation of our belief that, unless we delight our clients and their customers, they have every right in the world to find someone else to do business with.  Our job is to never let that thought enter into any of our client's minds…ever!

That's what I think world class customer service.  Anticipate our client's needs even before they recognize it as a need, and, consider our relationship as a sacred trust.  If we ever break that trust, work as hard as we can to rebuild it and insure that it will never happen again.

Sam