Recent events at the Aardvark burrow have been the cause of much frustration and raised blood pressure, so I felt the need for some cathartic blogging. We sent a parcel through a courier service promising fully bar-coded and traceable delivery from our local drop-off point through to the signature of the person receiving the parcel at its destination. The parcel was a viola case, which had been loaned, along with a new viola, to our daughter for a trial period. We were returning the case back to the music shop in Cardiff.
Sadly, events didn’t go to plan. We’ve been trying to get to the bottom of what’s happened for more than 2 weeks. The companies we’ve dealt with have really plumbed the depths of poor customer care, and have inspired me to bring you (with my tongue firmly in my cheek) “the Top Ten Teflon Tips for customer service”
Top Ten Teflon Tips for Customer Service
1. Never, ever, let your customer contact you and have a real, live, telephone conversation. Set up no reply email addresses, to make it difficult for them to contact you.
2. Hide your contact details behind a website with no telephone number and no email address. Make sure that customers that do find your telephone number by other means get a “We’re unavailable” message and ask them to call back. Don’t allow them to leave voicemail.
3. Have an unhelpful FAQ section on your website that doesn’t address any of the issues they want to ask you about.
4. Make sure that your customers have to go through the rigmarole of setting up an account with you, together with the need for passwords and confirmation by ‘no reply’ email before they are lucky enough to get to your ‘live chat’ forum.
5. Hide your true identity – pass over the work to third parties and don’t let your customer know who is really dealing with their parcel handling and delivery. Mislead them by issuing a branded receipt from a company that isn’t going to actual handle the parcel so they can make customers wait while they contact the actual courier.
6. Use as many different reference numbers as possible for each step, one for the original email confirmation, another for the parcel collection reference, a third for your online account and a fourth for each time you make contact with someone in customer ‘services’ – this will make sure it takes multiple attempts for customers to get in touch and put some of them off trying.
7. Never, ever, be proactive, (after all most customers won’t manage to get through to your ‘customer service’ at all) and will probably give up on their complaint. Never have the courtesy to let them know how their complaint is progressing. Whatever you do, don’t start treating the parcel as though it or the customer who gave it to you are important.
8. Mislead to your customers at each stage of their complaint. Train your ‘live chat’ operators to tell them they have to wait several days after the promised delivery date before they can make a complaint. Don’t tell them that to open an inquiry with the third party courier will require 2 days’ notice. Lie to them about the ‘24 hours’ it will take for the actual courier to actually search for your lost parcel in your depot.
9. Make it really difficult for them to see the actual invoice (contract) they paid for in advance. We advise sending them an email with a hyperlink to a website where they cannot access their invoice because it’s the wrong company website.
10. Make sure the customer has paid for your service in advance and never offer them an apology, a refund or any compensation.
We hope you’re not inspired to follow our Teflon Tips, but, if you’re ever tempted to cut service level corners remember you are doing your customers a huge disservice. Everyone knows that humans can, and do, make mistakes from time to time, how you deal with these mistakes is hugely influential in how your brand and precious reputation is perceived. And finally, remember that ‘word of mouth’ is even more powerful with bad news!