There’s a statistic often quoted that if you get bad service, you’ll tell a whole load of people about it, to warn them not to use the company themselves.

The surveys come in somewhere between around 10-20 people for each bad customer experience.

For a great customer experience, only 2-3 people are told about it, so the story goes.  I think this is reasonably true, because we remember things that emotionally engage us and then talk about them.

As a small business coach, I have seen the impact many times of bad customer experiences.  I also pay a lot of attention to the service I get.  In the past 2 weeks, I have suffered poor service on a grand scale.  Let’s name and shame two of the culprits…

Do Vodafone Really Care?

When a company gets as big as Vodafone, the passion and vision for delivering their service doesn’t always filter through to everyone in the business.

Take a look at the photo of the package that arrived this week.  That is what you get for spending £240 with them.  I ordered a SIM for my son’s phone – £20/month contract.

No instructions, no “welcome to Vodafone” card or booklet, nothing but a scrumpled goods delivery note stuffed into an express delivery envelope.  Absolutely diabolical first impression.

Of course, if they asked for feedback themselves, I’d have gladly delivered it directly to them and kept it to myself until they responded.  And that’s one of the secrets of great customer service – ask your clients how you’re doing.

Instead of this, I have enjoyed telling a lot more than 11 people.

And As For VistaPrint…

I bought some new business cards – I was going to an event where business coaching just might be in demand – I wanted full colour and in a hurry – so I got them from VistaPrint.  Their online system for ordering is truly brilliant and I got them within 2 working days of designing them myself, online, and ordering.  Brilliant, what stunningly fast service

Then I opened the box and found my cards printed on cheap, poorly finished thin card, reminding me of the sugar paper my little girl likes to paint and draw on.

I ordered the best quality they have on their site.  They arrived and the card is just too thin.  Unimpressed, I used their customer service contact form and got an autoreply, “we’ll be in touch with you within 48 hours, we really care” kind of thing.

That was two weeks ago and I have heard nothing since.  Nothing, that is, apart from an email every day trying to get me to spend more with them.

I’ve unsubscribed from their email list and will never use their services again.  I’ll also advise anybody I know to go elsewhere.

Pity, because they have a great idea that’s spoilt for the sake of probably £1 extra worth of card quality.  I’d have gladly paid the extra for the quality.

I have spoken to several people who think VistaPrint business cards are cheap and cheesy.  Their reputation will be created based on this impression.  It’s such a shame because they do so many things right.

How To Give Great Customer Service

You need to have business systems in place to control all of the regular touch-points that you have with clients.  Every time a client interaction takes place, it’s the place that stories are made. 

Would you prefer to have 3 people told great stories about you, or 11 people hearing bad news?

What would it have taken for VistaPrint to reply to my note and apologise, explaining why they don’t use decent card.  Or even better, to send me some cards on better stock and say “Thanks! – we didn’t realise – they’re on the house for helping us improve!”.

Vodafone really need a welcome pack for SIM only customers.  I thought that SIM only advertising meant the product, not the whole service too!

Ah well, at least it’s been therapeutic for your coach to write this blog!

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