March 25, 2016

The Price of “Wow” Customer Service

customer loyalty programThe other day two very pleasant gentlemen knocked on my door and tried to sway me to switch from ‘Cable/Internet Provider A’ to ‘Cable/Internet Provider B.’  The sales pitch they came armed with was that with option B, I would be saving $20-$30 a month.  How could anyone pass that up, they asked?

What they didn’t know before they knocked on my door was that some in the neighborhood who had made the switch, had been complaining loudly, in person and on community forums, about the dismal customer service that Company B provided. So I explained to the two nice salesmen that their company was being slammed by current customers and I wasn’t so eager to jump into the abyss with them.

But you can save $20-$30 a month, they argued!! *

I tried to explain, though I’m not sure they ever really understood, that the savings didn’t account for the customer service headaches my neighbors had been complaining about.  That I’m not willing to save a buck if it means I’m going to get treated horribly as a customer.

That got me thinking about us as food entrepreneurs and how our products cost more than mainstream products because of the love and attention we put into them.  But sometimes that alone is not enough to justify a higher price point to consumers.  To really help seal the deal, providing customers with the type of customer service that leaves them saying ‘wow’ will help them see the value in what you’re offering because you’re offering more than just a product at that point.

My favorite personal story of ‘wow’ customer service is from when I worked as a pastry chef a luxury hotel at a ski resort.  Somehow, word filtered down to the kitchen that a guest had recently broken his leg while skiing and was going to be spending all of Christmas Eve and Christmas in the hospital preparing for and having surgery.  I honestly don’t know who organized it, but the call went out looking for volunteers to help haul a Christmas tree into this family’s suite and decorate it for them.  When the tired wife and kids returned from a long day in the hospital, they found a Christmas tree with lights all waiting for them – at no cost from the hotel.   I wasn’t there to see the look on their faces but I have to imagine that they appreciated the gesture (and yes, in case anyone worries, this was a family that celebrated Christmas – someone at the front desk had made Christmas Eve dinner reservations for them and ‘sitting with Santa’ for the kids).

What’s your favorite customer service story?  Either customer service that you’ve experienced, that you’ve provided, or that you’ve heard about?

*To be fair, they were telling the truth that I would save $20-$30 initially but after 6 months the rates they were offering shot up beyond what I’m paying now making any savings disappear.  They also apparently didn’t count on the fact that I believe in reading the fine print on contracts and know how to do basic math.

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