Excellence University Blog

A Quick Rant on Customer Service

by John Spence

August 31st, 2006

I have been jumping up and down on this topic for the past 6 months or so and finally this month almost every major business magazine is featuring cover stories or main stories about how dismal customer service is in America. No kidding – we all know it and live through it every day!

Another great example this morning: I stopped in at my dry cleaners to pick up and drop off some clothes.  Last time I was there they had ruined a pair of my pants and gave me a credit for the cleaning bill (yep, they ruin a $65 pair of pants and refund me $2.43 for the price of “cleaning” them – wow, that makes me feel good!) – anyway, I asked the lady at the counter if she would apply the credit to the new “house” account I had just established the week before, to which she replied: “ I am sorry we don’t offer any discounts to people with accounts.”  What? First of all this was a credit for a mistake they had made… but it also alerted me that I was no longer going to get the 15% discount I had received for the last 4 years because of a “special customer” program I belonged to.

I signed up for the house account so I could just get one bill at the end of the month and would not have to wait around every time for them to run my credit card. Easier on them, easier on me, less paperwork — and I am now more loyal because I have made it much more convenient for me to use their store and a big hassle to go to any other cleaner – and so they are going to penalize me with a 15% increase in my dry cleaning bill for being… one of their most loyal customers. Amazing!

Between my wife and I we spend about $70 a week on dry cleaning. That is roughly $3,000 a year – for the past 4 years with this company (yes, $12,000 on dry cleaning) and now they want to make me pay an additional $500 a year because I have an account. Do you see the incredible stupidity in this? Yet, I see business after business do the exact same thing. They ignore or punish good customers in a rush to go after new customers. They’ll take away my “special customer” discount after being loyal for 4 years, but will jump through hoops and offer a 30% discount to woo a new patron.  As they step over me to get to new customers, I wonder what the chances are of them finding a lot of people who will spend $3,000 a year on dry cleaning? And I would have continued to do that for years and years… if I were still a customer!

Question: How do you treat your most loyal customers?

Article Filed under: I. WATER (Team/Group Excellence)

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Brian Higley  |  September 13th, 2006 at 2:15 am

    I can certainly relate to this! It seems that customer service is on a real downswing over the past 10 years! Any ideas why? Do you see customer service making a comeback anytime soon? Finally, are there any industries where customer service is still executed at a high level?

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