I subscribe to a very well-regarded business publication affiliated with a very prestigious business school. Shame on me, my subscription had lapsed by four days when I finally got around to renewing it. I tried to renew online but got caught in a circular pattern. I clicked renew, it told me to login. When I logged in, clicking renew took me to the new subscriber page. I couldn’t become a new subscriber because my email account was already associated with a subscription! After unsuccessfully trying to get out of this pattern, I tried online chat. The chat representative put me in the same circular pattern. She finally told me she could not solve the problem and I needed to call customer service. It only took 2 transfers for me to successfully give them money and renew my subscription.
I found it quite humorous that one of their leading articles for this month’s issue is titled “Kick-Ass Customer Service.” (It made the cover!) I felt like I got kicked after that experience! My head hurts just thinking about what happened. My head hurt worse when I thought about what happens in our business when we make it hard to work with us. If we make it difficult to do business with us, customers will just call someone else. In this situation, I wanted a specific publication; there wasn’t a ready substitute. Most of us don’t have that barrier to entry. We just lose business.
In my first job after college, a salty senior investment banker was notorious for starting every conversation with, “What did you do to make us money today?” I have a very vivid memory of him asking me that question the first time I met him. He followed it up with, “Who the $&&#*(@) are you?” All of this took place in the restroom. I think that first question should be replaced with, “How have you made your customers’ lives easier today?” If you do that, the money will follow. If you don’t make it easy to do business with you, someone else will. That will make more than your head hurt.