Figure It Out: The Death Cry Of Customer Service

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Figuring out things on their own is a nightmare for customers. However, providing them with appropriate service is beneficial for your business and will generate positive word-of-mouth.

Customer Service At Its Worst

Have you ever shopped for a dress shirt? You know, the shirts with a hundred pins, cardboard forms and a 15 minute journey to try it on?

My friend and I needed matching shirts as groomsman (super cute) and not being experts in sizing, we must have tore through a dozen packages before finding the right look and fit.

When the war was over, the carnage was quite severe. Opened shirts were left in a heap, stick pins were everywhere and a sense of guilt hung over us as we imagined the work some poor sap would now endure to rebuild the original displays.

How easy would it have been, and how much time would have been saved (for us and them) if a little service was afforded up front rather than having us figure it out?

Image this:

  • Someone to help us pick an appropriate style
  • A quick measure to get an approximate size
  • A demo shirt to try on where you can grab the equivalent new one
  • Regular assistance if there was a poor fit

“Well Sean, it’s hard to have somebody on staff that can spend that kind of time.”

Great argument, I had the same one. But then I thought about how much time could be saved with a small investment of service. Is it more costly to work with us or reset and re-stick a dozen shirts? Besides just efficiency, I probably would have felt a lot better about the experience of buying the shirt if someone helped.

A great analogy for this is sports. In soccer a ball may be just a little out of reach, but if you don’t put in a bit more energy to get it now, you’ll spend a lot more chasing someone to get it later.

Don’t Leave It To The Customer To ‘Figure Out’

Sticking with soccer, I recently had to register for a soccer team on a new website. It required be invited by my captain, clicking a link to the website, registering for an account, clicking the emailed link, setting up a user profile then registering for the team. It got so confusing that even me as a relatively technical guy had to call in.

The lady was polite, but I could tell even before I asked that dozens of people must have done the same. The design may have made things easier on paper for administration, but whatever time they saved they likely lost on people calling in. Beyond that, there’s no a line of people upset that they wasted their own time trying to do something that used to be simple.

“Once the customer figures it out, it’ll be easy from then on.”

“Ok. Then I hope you’re looking forward to answering all the technical support calls from angry people.”

I hate the notion of having the customer ‘figure it out’. Figuring it out is probably one of the most subjective things that can exist. Experience, patience, intuition; these are all things that you shouldn’t have to rely on for the customer to use your product. Keep this in mind when offering service to your next one.


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