I recently had to purchase a new dishwasher, and I paid to have it installed. The delivery men showed up and had begun to unpack the new dishwasher when I realized they brought the wrong model. Well, it went back on the truck, and it was up to me to call my salesperson to let him know what happened. It was going to be another four days before the next delivery. When the next delivery came, the model was correct but the delivery men unpacked the unit and left it sitting in my kitchen because they were not the installers. I had to wait another day for the installer to show up, only to find out he was subcontracted and didn’t have experience with this unit. When another installer finally showed up, he admitted that he didn’t have experience with this unit either. However, he said, “Don’t worry. I can figure this out.” He got online, did some research and got to work.

Experiences like this are frustrating, to say the least. As Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm, points out, the same company that creates a bad customer experience will also spend millions on marketing in an attempt to build relationships with customers. She says at the heart of bad service are three fatal errors: Taking actions that cost customers money they don’t expect to spend, costing customers time they don’t have to give, and failing to deliver on promises. We’ll explain more in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Error No. 1: Costing Customers Money They Don’t Expect to Spend. Have you ever chosen a rental car because the price was going to be $57 for the week only to find out that with taxes and fees, in the end, you actually paid $147? Or, how about checking into a hotel in Las Vegas and finding out you are going to be billed a $20 resort fee every day of your stay? Zabriskie points out that companies have the right to incur their fees, but they need to be upfront and transparent about these fees. Otherwise, people feel like they’ve been taken advantage of. Be careful in communicating money requirements to the customer up front, and make it simple and easy for the customer to understand their cost.

Error No. 2: Costing Customers Time They Don’t Need To Spend. Have you ever been in the grocery store line waiting for what seems like an eternity because the checker is too slow or too busy making conversation and not moving people through the line? Then you look at the next line over, the one you almost picked, and note that five people were checked out during the time you’ve been waiting?

Zabriskie says that time is valuable to your customers, so look at your process through the eyes of a customer. Are there places where inefficiencies exist that could be eliminated without sacrificing safety or something else your organization values? If so, show your customers some respect by becoming more efficient. If you are not sure where you could make improvements, ask your customers. They probably know. They’ve certainly had enough time to think about it while waiting for you to get your act together.

Error No. 3: Failing To Deliver On Your Promises: Have you ever been promised something by a company only to be let down? What they advertised was not what was delivered. The quality was not what was promised. Companies that fail to deliver on their promises erode customer trust.

Your customers will feel misled and lied to when you don’t come through with your brand promise. So review what you’ve promised your customers and make the operational changes that are required to maintain that customer expectation and customer experience. Start fixing those areas that are bound to cause disappointment or worse.

Avoid these errors and take the action needed to show your customers how important they are to your business.

Source: Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.