I’ve heard it said that you can’t control the things that happen to you in life, you can only control how you react to it.
Customer service is how your business reacts to what happens to it. Something goes wrong, either for you or for the customer, and now you have to react.
Maybe a customer forgot about an anniversary and needs something shipped tomorrow. Maybe they messed up and picked the wrong size, but only noticed after you shipped it. Maybe one of your materials is late and you’ll miss the delivery date by a week. What do you do?
When these situations arise, people talk about them to everyone they know. The question is, do you want customers raving about how great you were to work with? Or how miserable you were to work with?
To this day, I tell people about the time in 2006 when a local computer store broke a component in my beloved Mac Book during a repair and claimed it was not their responsibility to fix it. The machine was now unusable and they wanted to sell me a new one. Not knowing what else to do, I called Apple customer service. The machine was out of warranty, but Apple said they would take care of it. They gave me an overnight label to print on Friday afternoon and they had the machine back to me on Monday.
They stood behind their product, even when it cost them to do so because it generated good will for the company (and, no one who knows me will ever buy or get service from any location of that local store because of my experience with them).
I know, you have some excuse about Apple having a billion dollars to spend on customer service and you don’t… but Apple isn’t the issue here. The local company could have replaced and installed the part and for just a few dollars, and then I’d be raving about how great they were instead of how awful they were. I’d be helping their business instead of hurting it.
Providing great customer service is a choice on your part. Businesses handle those situations in ways that leave the customer miserable all the time. You can CHOOSE to do everything you can to help your customers. You can CHOOSE to put in the effort to come up with a solution to the problem and delight your customers.
EPILOGUE: The company I worked for at the time, where was on the corporate IT team. was mostly on Unix and switched to Macs not long after this incident. Because of my experience, we bought 50 high-end Mac G5 machines (roughly $3500 each, for a total sale of $175K) somewhere else.