A Tale of Two Experiences
It was the worst of times; it was the best of times.
So, as with everyone, the economy is top of mind. I promise that I’ll talk about technology soon, but the current events seem so much more relevant today. My bank was just purchased by another bank. While this doesn’t scare me - I know the money is safe - but I know the service levels are not.
That bank and I have a history for the better part of a decade. I had a horrible customer service experience with them. They have been on a purchasing tear for most of that decade; I’ve been paying avoid them. Somehow we keep running into each other. I’ve canceled credit cards, moved mortgages, and closed accounts all to avoid ever being its customer again.
What did it do? The bank sent me an account statement that said one thing, and I acted on that information, and it wound up being incorrect. The fall out was about a hundred dollars. Rather than admitting the issue and refunding me the difference, the bank rep. proceeded to tell me he understood my confusion but there was nothing they could do. Most of the call center employees didn’t even have the information to even know what I was talking about. Faxes, letters, escalations and countless hours on hold, they did nothing. I even called the local consumer advocate and he admitted defeat. Hence, my current fear and loathing of this bank.
Now, a positive customer experience: I had bought a laptop for my MBA program to keep my school stuff separate from all my other work and personal data. It was near the very end of the program and, of course, the laptop dies. The machine will not start; the screen will not even light. I was in a panic so I rushed to the local retail location. The store took in my machine, did a full backup to a local hard drive at the store and allowed me to pull critical files to a USB key. The store rep. told me the repair will take about 7 business days.
I relax and head back to class a few days later. Oh no, I had forgotten to pull a semester’s worth of notes onto the USB key . The final was on Friday but the machine was due back on Monday. I run back to the store, but the backup they took was just an image file, not the files. I’m sunk. However, a fast thinking technician said he could restore the files to a loaner machine, pull the files, and give them to me.
However, he feared that he’d have to charge me the restore fee. Who cares?!? Get me my files!
The tech told me to come back in an hour so I spent the time drinking too much Starbucks. When I return, there’s the laptop with all my files. I pulled them off greedily and went to pay, but they waived the fee. The tech said it had been a slow day and no big deal. I passed my test on Friday and picked up my machine early Saturday.
My experiences show how powerful the customer experience can be either in the positive or the negative.
I have spent time and money avoiding one company and I’ll do the same to enforce loyalty with another. I have hence bought three more computers from that same company and I have spent hours on the phone and well over a thousand dollars to avoid that other bank.
Was a $100 dollars worth me never being a customer again? Was an hour of an employee’s time worth a customer for life? Do you think I don’t share those experiences with friends and family?
I believe a small investment in customer service can save millions in customer acquisition costs and brand equity. Companies need to consider this experience when they think that customer commitments are unimportant. I am sure there are people with the same opinions due to an out-of-stock part, late technician, or out-of-whack price.
Excuse me, now, I need to do the research to find another bank. <–>