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A Business Must Have For 2010, & It Won’t Hit Your P&L. Delta, This Means You

January 8, 2010

Part of my job is to teach people ways to build their sales, brand, customer experiences and customer retention levels. One of the issues many businesses have to deal with are un happy customers. Customer gripes range from minuscule issues all the way to major service problems. How you handle customer service issues will greatly affect your business, brand, sales and retention rates. If you’re not on top of your customer service game in 2010 rest assured your customers will find themselves doing business with someone else who is.

No business is immune to a bad public image or reputation. Everyone has to deal with people whether you sell a product or service, and everyone has at one point had to deal with “that customer”. Unfortunately most businesses handle poor customer experiences or criticisms very badly. Many businesses cease to realize what a great tool an email, letter or face to face complaint can be. When people are dissatisfied with a product or service and they make the decision to communicate that issue you owe it to them as a reputable company to listen and react in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, what usually happens is a breakdown in communication with both parties leaving unsatisfied.

True story

Four years ago almost to the day of this posting I had to fly to Vegas for a conference for my new job. This was going to be my first trip, meeting, and introduction to all of my new co workers. I booked my flight on Delta months ahead. Growing up in Atlanta with a father that worked for Delta for 23 years I had some serious brand loyalty. Even though I booked my ticket months out I missed my flight due to a crazy gate change the morning of. I’ll take the blame for that, but what happened next is the perfect example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

I ended up standing by for 9 other flights over the course of the day with 29 other passengers from my original flight. We all had to fly stand by since the other flights were oversold. Well after talking to a gate agent I found out that the flights weren’t leaving full. They had seats available in first class, but since none of the standby passengers were first class passengers we had to wait for coach seats to open up. Needless to say I was upset since they could have easily moved someone into the front and put me in their seat, but that thought never crossed their mind. Even when I suggested that the gate agent told me “that isn’t possible”. I looked him in the eye and told him, “I’ll never spend a dime with your airline again”, to which he replied, “I’m sorry you feel that way”. Now if he were truly sorry this story would have never made it to this page.

After sitting in the airport for 11 hours I finally made a flight to Vegas just in time to miss dinner with my new coworkers. Now, after all that I still didn’t write Delta off because part of the debacle was my fault. However, when I came home I emailed their customer service department as a last resort. I’d already spoken to a handful of gate agents who did nothing and this was their last chance to win me back. Well, needless to say I never heard back. I haven’t flown Delta since, and probably never will as long as I can help it. Oh, I thought I’d remind you that Delta went bankrupt just last year.

If you do not provide your customers with the service they see fit or the service you promise they will spend their money somewhere else. It’s that simple. A smile, thank you, email, letter, apology or phone call will not cost you a thing other than your time. You don’t even have to have a customer service line on your P&L because it’s free. Don’t let something as simple and as easy as customer service make or break your business in 2010. Make it a priority because your competition already has.

It’s just that simple.

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