Are You Over-servicing Your Customers?

زمان تقریبی مطالعه: ۳ دقیقه

A long time ago in a suburb far, far away, I owned a café. It was very popular and not uncommon for there to be throngs of customers queuing up outside to get in, particularly on weekends.
Of course, customers IN the café didn’t always care about those poor people waiting outside to get in, so they’d sit leisurely enjoying their newspaper, oblivious to the world around them. It didn’t take me long to realise that customers were walking away in frustration and as a result I wasn’t maximising revenue. So I came up with a plan…

Now I didn’t want to upset those customers reading their newspapers so instead of asking them to clear off (and probably never returning!) I would ask my waiter to enquire whether they wanted anything else. I’d watch them look up, invariably reply “no” then return to what they were doing. Two minutes later I’d send over my waitress to ask them whether they wanted anything else. They’d look up again, say “no” and then the penny would invariably drop. They’d look around, notice the customers waiting to get in and a twinge of guilt would have them out the door in a few minutes (and if it didn’t the next step was to give them the bill). We called it “over-servicing” – and it was very effective. But as I’m sure you can understand there was a fine balance required so as not to irritate the customer.

The servicing balance applies to every organisation. Recently, however, I’ve noticed a trend of organisations over-servicing their customers. Companies, in a desperate attempt to curry favour are killing their customer relationships with kindness.

Only last week I made an enquiry with my mobile phone provider as to a late charge on my bill. Even though I’d ticked the “contact me via email” option I was immediately bombarded by phone calls, voicemail messages, text and several emails. Whoah! It was only a $15 charge! After I’d recovered from what seemed like a customer service bombardment I had to spell it out to them “please just refund the $15 charge and you don’t need to contact me again”. A meek reply said they would do so and I was finally left in peace…

Now the cynics amongst you may say that this organisation was just trying to do the right thing, but they failed in the balance of servicing their customers – they over-serviced me and irritated me. It put me off interacting with them in future.

With every customer interaction we have an impact on what I call “the bank of customer satisfaction” – a positive interaction leads to a deposit into the bank and a negative one results in a withdrawal. In this case a few small withdrawals were made and a small deposit was made at the end for getting things right! Too many withdrawals from the bank of customer satisfaction (no matter how small) and the relationship with the customer will end when the bank seeps into the red.

The lesson here is that more interactions are not necessarily beneficial for building customer relationships – the key is the right kind of interaction, at the right time where the outcome is focussed on a positive one for the customer. It’s about quality interactions, not quantity.

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۴۲۶۲۳ (۰۲۱)