Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

Check Your Customer Service2020 has been an unprecedented year in a lot of ways. We all know what the changes are, and we are all aware of the hardships and adjustments we have had to go through to achieve a “new normal” (I am not fond of that particular phrase). The way we live, work and play has been affected.

However, lately I have noticed that one thing in particular seems to be taking A BIG HIT – Customer Service. Recently, I had to order flowers for a memorial service. The service was out of state so I went online and contacted a local florist – one with good reviews and ratings. I placed my order and they sent an order acknowledgment stating everything I ordered.  The morning of the service (right after breakfast), they called me and asked a question. A couple of hours later, they called again and asked another question. Forty-five minutes before the service was to begin, while I was driving to the chapel the florist called to say the flowers were not ready and would not be delivered. Naturally, I was upset, but I could not to deal with it right then. 

When I arrived at the chapel, I found out that two other people didn’t receive the flowers ordered from this place, either. 

Now, as if this wasn’t bad enough, they called me back hours after the service and wanted to deliver then.  I said no, that the service was over, just refund my money. Then they wanted to deliver to the family. I said, “Sure, hop in your little delivery van and deliver those flowers to Richmond, Virginia. I’ll give you my address. It’s only 600 miles.”

They said no, and again I asked for a refund. Then they wanted to give me a $20 store credit (I spent over $100 on the flower arrangement). Again: “No, just refund my money.”  Then they told me point blank that they would not refund my money, that they had made the arrangement. I told them point blank that if they did not refund my money I would contact Visa, get a refund and they could deal with Visa. Also, I would contact the BBB to file a complaint, and possibly even the police, as I considered this to be fraud. That seemed to get their attention. They agreed to refund all my money. Then, after all that, they had the audacity to send me a review request! I think you all can imagine what my review said!

The thing is, this is not an isolated incident. I’ve heard similar stories from many people.

My next-door neighbor ordered a custom made T-shirt. When it arrived it was the wrong color and the wrong size. She had to argue with the vendor for over a week to get them to send her a new one. 

My BFF ordered a book and the wrong book was delivered. She had to go back and forth for several days with the merchant and send pictures of the book in the company packaging before they would send her the right one. 

Another friend of mine got a message that her package (a birthday gift for her mom) had been delivered to her mailbox. She checked her mailbox 15 minutes later, and it wasn’t there. It never showed up. She is still trying to get a replacement. 

My cousin bought a TV at a national chain store, took it home, unboxed it and found the picture screen had a visible defect. The store didn’t want to replace it. He had to call their home office to get it taken care of.  

Check Your Customer ServiceOther examples: I also know of food delivered to the wrong house, and an internet company taking three weeks to fix a documented problem. There’s more – the list goes on and on. What is actually very concerning is that this is not just a mom and pop shop problem or a big corporate issue. A distinct lack of customer service is occurring  across the board, rural and city, big and small companies alike. That’s a scary trend. 

These are not good days for customer service.

The thing is, these times should be the times of GREAT customer service. People are more stressed and worried about more things than probably most any other time in recent history. If customers want or need to deal with you now when they are stressed and anxious beyond all reasonable limits, then this is the time for companies to put their best foot forward. 

Do the best job you can. Go the extra mile. Maybe offer a quicker turnaround or a free sink. (We all have leftover sinks sitting in our shops collecting dust.) Give them a can of cleaner with the job. Send them a thank you note. Do what you say you are going to do, and then do just a little bit more. If there’s a legit issue, go take care of it quickly. (Hey, I know there are people out there who you will never make happy.) Just remember, if you take care of them during hard times, they will remember you in good times. 

Now, before you start complaining that you are just as stressed and anxious as they are, making someone happy or making someone smile makes you feel better, too. It’s a chemical reaction in your brain that has to do with dopamine, serotonin, neurotransmitters and a bunch of medical stuff that you and I will probably never understand. It just works. 

So, put a smile on your face and go out to do the best job you can, plus a bit extra, if necessary. It makes them happy and lowers their stress levels in turn, making you happy, and lowering your stress levels. Now, somehow I think that’s what we all need these days – more happiness and less stress. Don’t you agree?

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