How to improve your customer service and win loyal customers

A friend of mine, Nick Laight, publishes a great regular email on how to make money. His latest gives an excellent real-life example of how you can easily improve your customer service. I enjoyed the story so much that Nick has kindly given his permission for me to publish it here:

Dear Karl

You might recall I had problems with squatters a few weeks back.
Well, we have finally managed to get some tenants in BUT (yes, there's always a but), we discovered that the fridge didn't work and needed replacing.

Shouldn't be too much of a problem . . . you'd think.

We ordered through John Lewis (one of the UK's biggest retailers) as they had delivered the last one 5 years ago. Now as the house is old and the stairway narrow, the fridge had to be lowered down from street level about 7 feet to the basement area. And then the old fridge removed in the same way.

So the John Lewis van arrives on the day of delivery and that's when thing start to go wrong:

"Sorry mate, we're not insured to do that. We can't take a fridge down there."
"What? But we explicitly told your customer service – they said you could!"
"No way, you're not going to get any company doing that."
"But you did it 5 years ago!"
"Ah, but the rules have changed since then."

So John Lewis take the fridge away. After much wrangling with the arrogant, rude and totally unhelpful dimwit at their customer service department, we cancel that one and go for Currys (another major UK retailer).

Now Curry's have even got a TV ad running at the moment that focuses exclusively on their exceptional next day no-fuss delivery. Surely, this will be a simple job for them.

The result? Same thing. Deny all knowledge of the delivery instructions. Refuse to even attempt to get it in. But as this was fast descending into a farce I told them to leave the fridge in the hallway.

So the upshot is I had to pay for a man (and his mate) and a van to do it for me.

Eighty pounds on top of the cost of the fridge! And the farce doesn't end there . . .

Unfortunately due to some health and safety regulation the very nice removal men couldn't take the old one away. So, we have to ask the council to pick it up in 2 weeks and I will have to either pay for someone to lift it up to street level or go and do it myself!

And here's the important point of this story . . .

If you want to be successful in any business – big or small – online or offline – whether you sell products or services – you are there to SOLVE PROBLEMS AND NOT CREATE THEM!

My tenants were without a fridge. To solve the problem I had to buy another. So I went to John Lewis (and Currys) to find a solution. I went to their websites, found the appropriate make and model and ordered. I checked their terms and conditions to make sure they would deliver.

How to improve your customer service.  Learn how to solve problems in this short case-study

And what did I get? Another problem!

It took me even more time, hassle and money to solve. If either outfit had helped to solve my problem and take it off my hands as I had hoped, then I would have been happy with the transaction. I would most likely have used them again for major electrical purchases.

Will I now? Will I heck!

But I will be using the man and the van company. They helped me out of a spot with the squatters. They helped me sort out the fridge within 3 hours. And yes, I am bound to use them again if I have any delivery or moving problem.

So if you want to find customers simply improve your customer service by getting into the problem-solving mindset.

And there's never any shortage of problems to solve. Getting rid of them will instantly make our lives better for it – sore throats, flat tyres, dead batteries, lime scale, bad breath, and yes broken fridges.

There are also those problems that can be solved to fill holes in wants (the lack of a desirable item or state) whether it be a owning a Ferrari or a computer game – to be slimmer, more attractive, more successful with the opposite sex, find the best school for our children, make successful investments, even train a dog.

The want has to be satisfied.

There are also problems that arise from business processes – payment, delivery, customer service and refunds. All of these can be problematic if handled incorrectly. How can you improve your customer service to make sure that your customers have a positive experience of these areas?

If you want your business to survive and prosper then you need to work harder on being a problem-solver and not a problem-creator.

But what if you are working for someone else right now?

If you want to secure your job in these tough times, get a raise or even position yourself for a promotion, then make sure you are visibly solving problems in your business.

There is nothing worse than an employee (or business) who burdens their manager (or customer) with more problems.

But take if from me, if an employee or business identifies a problem and then comes up with various solutions, they raise their value significantly!

Righto. Rant over.

Want more on winning customers? Check out:

3 simple ideas to help you and your business flow (article and podcast)

What is the best marketing strategy or tactic? (video)

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