Friday, March 3, 2017

Listen to your Customers!

Hello Entrepreneurs!

So, you want to be successful.

You want a lot of customers.

I have a question for you - What are your customers telling you? Is your service exemplary? Do you WOW them?

A little background on me. I managed a customer service department for over five years. We improved our service to our customers. It was not easy. Some days our motto was, "We put the CUSS in Customer Service." But, we realized how important our service was to the bottom line and we worked hard to do a better job.

Let me tell you about a recent experience I have recently had with a local retailer.

We were having a new bathroom floor installed. There were a lot of errors in how and what was communicated to us.

First, the sales person told us we would make a down payment on the job. Then when the material arrived we would make the final payment and schedule the install. We made the down payment with the cashier and was told the same thing.

The next day I received a call that we needed to finish the payment before they would order the material. I explained what I had been told and their response was that was wrong. When I spoke to the sales person about this he told me he never said that. I explained it was in my notes. He still denied it and said they would "do what I wanted this time." I explained they were not "doing what I wanted" that they were "doing what they had promised." His response was we would just agree to disagree. (I said no more, but you can probably imagine what I was thinking.)

Part of the process for this install is that I would pick up the quarter round molding and have it painted prior to the install. When I went in to get it they had it ready to go. I also went ahead and paid the balance knowing it would be a hassle. When I explained it to the rep she called here manager over and had me explain what had happened about the payment. He apologized and said I should have never been told that.

Another part of this process is I agreed to take out the old floor and the toilet. This would save time and money on the install. We scheduled the install for Saturday the 11th. I ripped up the old floor. On Thursday I called and asked if everything was in order for our Saturday install. They said yes and that I would receive a call on Friday telling me what time to expect the installer.

On Friday I received a call stating the installer would be at my house between 7am and 11am the next day. Friday night I removed the toilet and my wife and I emptied the closet. We put all our clothes on our bed and had to sleep on the pullout in the living room.

At 7am the next day, Saturday, the phone rang. It was the installer. He told me they were at the store and the material was not there.

The material was not there.

I asked where it was.

He did not know.

Who did know?

He did not know.

Was there someone at the store with whom I could speak?

Mark. (Then he gave me the number)

With out getting into the gory details of the conversation here are the highlights.

1) They did not know where the material was
2) They could not call the delivery company because they are closed on Saturday
3) The material was to be delivered early this morning
4) I was called confirming the install because they thought the material would be delivered Saturday morning
5) It is impossible for the material to be delivered to another store because of the electronic order (remember this one, we will come back to it)
6) There is nothing Mark could do until Monday
7) He apologized for the inconvenience (see photo of bathroom above)

Monday morning I receive a call from Amanda. They found the material. It had been delivered to another store (See #5 above). When I explained what Mark had said Amanda brushed it off.

We were scheduled for a Wednesday install.

I am not available on Wednesday. I can do Tuesday afternoon, Friday, or Saturday. She would see if they would push it to Tuesday and call me back with the material was on hand. (I had told her I was not going to schedule anything until they actually had the material in the store).

Monday afternoon I get a call from Betty (now the third person I had to deal with since Saturday). The material was on hand and they would schedule for Friday. I asked about Tuesday. She said there was nothing in the notes about a Tuesday install.

Friday it would be. I arranged to be off work.

Toilet still out of bathroom.

Thursday I receive a call from the installer. They cannot make it on Friday but can on Saturday.

He knew they had missed the last week and was apologetic. I explained I had rearranged my schedule to accommodate a Friday install. Now I would at the last minute have to rearrange everything again.

He apologized and thanked me. Please note the install company is not the same as the company where I purchased the floor.

Saturday morning - the installer arrives about 11:30, was very polite, did a good job, and finished by 4:30. The floor looks great.

Both Mark and Amanda had promised a discount for our troubles. I went in the next day to discuss said discount. No one was there that could speak with me but Mark would be in 10 - 8 on Monday.

I went in about 4pm on Monday. No Mark. But Amanda was there. She offered a discount. I said it was not enough. She immediately turned around and made a call. The manager would go up to another amount. I said it was still not enough and started to tell her all we had been through.

She would not listen.

She told me they were dealing with the delivery company who was still charging them full price. How that is my problem is beyond me.

She told me a bunch of other stuff that proved it was not her fault, or the company's fault. It is the delivery company. I told her I had paid her company and the delivery company was not my issue. I asked to speak to the manager she just spoke with.

She is not in.

I did not ask to see her. Just to speak with her. Call her back please.

Amanda said the manager would not change. I asked her name and when she would be in.


It has been over a week. I have called the manager three times. Have left messages to call me.


I received a call to complete a 'customer satisfaction survey' regarding our recent floor install. The scale is 1 = Very Dissatisfied; 5 = Very Satisfied. For the installation itself they received a 5 on everything. The installer (an outside contractor) was very polite and did an excellent job. He communicated with me regularly during the four hour install.

Regarding the sale itself and the process of ordering they received a 1 on everything. I told them I would be happy to discuss this poor rating further. I have heard nothing.

As a result I have told many people about my bad experience with Home Depot in Annapolis, MD. I will NEVER use their installation or other service. Sure, I will purchase the occasional washer or other small item from them. They are convenient to my house. But, when ever possible I will plan my repairs and go to other stores for anything I need. I am about to paint a room. I will not purchase paint, brushes, etc. from Home Depot.


Finally, I know Home Depot will not go bankrupt because they lose my business. They can treat customers poorly and in the long run they will still be profitable.

But you, young entrepreneurs and small business owner, cannot afford to give bad service. Good customer service is the foundation of good business.


A while ago I read a book by Tony Hsieh, "Delivering Happiness" and it shows how making customer service a priority can lead to business growth and profits. I recommend it.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:   Delivering Happiness

Image result for delivering happiness book cover

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