Dear Fellow Business Owner / Manager,
Let’s face it — your service sucks. Bad.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit my service sucks on occasion too. But in my defense, my sins are unintentional. I am trying to do the right thing, and I either dropped the ball or hired the wrong ball carrier. You, by contrast, just don’t give a flip.
On the one hand, it’s impressive. You’ve taken indifference to an entirely new level. Your service isn’t just bad; it’s awful, insensitive, and downright dehumanizing. Just the simple act of engaging in the customer experience with your business is a soul-crushing odyssey through the circles of customer service hell.
Actually, mythological and literary references don’t even cut it. Doing business with you is nothing short of being a victim in one of the Saw movies.
And that doesn’t look like fun.
Of course, the natural inclination would be for me to thank you. Next to you, my worst customer service looks like a good day at the Ritz Carlton.
I should thank you for setting the bar so low that I barely have to raise my foot to step over it. Most of the social psychology literature says that human opinions are shaped heavily by comparison. You’ve made looking good all too easy.
So, maybe I should thank you. Then again, maybe not.
You see, while you would think that we would be able to shine by virtue of comparison to your JigSaw-esque customer experience, looking for better is not the dominant mindset that your customers walk away with. When your customers come to me, they are usually not thinking anything is better than that last place, when they come to me they are thinking how is this place going to try to screw me.
That’s right, being the next business to get your customer is a lot like…
It’s a pleasure, I tell you, wasting away in Paranoiaville with the shell-shocked victims of your customer experience.
So, should I thank you? You’ve sent me a customer who is jaded, tired, defensive and ready to find conspiracies and malicious intent at the first sign of something going wrong.
Actually, you haven’t sent me a customer; you’ve sent me a victim of Post-Traumatic Shopping Disorder. It will take me months, maybe years, to gain this person’s trust and to turn them into a profitable customer that does not need hand holding and reassurance at every step of the customer experience.
So, again, the question at hand is should I thank you?
Grudgingly, yes — I should. Regardless of their mental state, I have a new customer now and an opportunity to make that person happy and to make the world a little better by restoring that person’s faith in business. And for that, I do thank you.
Just know that I will be sending you the psychiatrist bills — theirs and mine.
With somewhat grudging regards,
By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.