Customer Service Is Marketing
Ian Lurie Jul 7 2010
Update: Our landlord has done right by us since the rocky start. Their representative got repairs under way within a few hours, and while this week has been a real pain, we could potentially be back running at 100% Monday or Tuesday. I have to give credit where credit is due.
On the everything-is-marketing theme, I bring you my own adventure, still ongoing.
Lesson: When things go wrong for your customers, sympathize, help out, and be honest.
6:30 AM: I get to my office this morning at 6:25 AM, and see this:
6:37 AM: After about 5 minutes of running in circles, moving printers, etc. to get them out of harm’s way, I called our building’s emergency number. Someone would be right there, they said.
At 7:20, I called again. It’s been an hour, I said, Where is the engineer!???. I was pretty freaked out, unhappy, etc.. Nice lady on the phone answered: Sir, it hasn’t been an hour, I checked the phone.
Wow. You are so right. Man, you showed me. It was only 40 minutes since I found water pouring into my office.
It gets better
Engineers show up, turn off the leak, etc.. Once things have calmed down, I ask them, Hey, should I plan on the office being closed for a while?
One engineer says, We’ll be working on this for a couple weeks. The other says No way, it’ll be a couple days. We’ll have exhaust fans in here to dry out the carpet, drill some holes in the walls to dry it out and you’ll be fine.
I say, Wow, those fans are pretty loud. I’m running a marketing agency – I can’t really have people on the phone with clients while there’s all that noise.
Engineer sneers and shrugs at me like, Oh, you f–king loser. Suck it up. Don’t be a whiner.
That was the difference between me remembering that the A/C repair guys, not my building’s owners, were at fault here. That, and one sneer, was the difference between me thanking the building engineers for their help, or thinking they’re total schmucks.
If, instead of arguing with me over whether it had been an hour, or it had been 40 minutes, the building manager had simply said “Sorry, I’ll check on where they’re at,” I’d be writing a very different blog post right now.
Now, if anyone asks me about the company that runs this place, I’ll say they’re OK, but miserable to deal with if anything goes wrong. I’ll say the maintenance guys are rude but semi-competent. And I certainly won’t recommend anyone I’ve dealt with in the last 3 hours.
Maybe this isn’t a big deal to them. But this is my damned company, my work that’s been disrupted, and it’s a big deal to me.
Next time I’m on the phone with an irate customer, I’ll remember that.
Update: The leak is stopped. Furniture is moved. Here’s how the office now looks:
Here’s a video representation:
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More