Customer Service

    “Open For Business” is a Promise Made

    Open-for-businessOpen for Business 

    It’s a real joy when a business opens its doors for the first time. “Open for Business” sounds and feels like hope and possibility to me. Starting a new business is where creativity blossoms and where innovation is made real. You’ve created something and you want to deliver that value for a fair payment in return. That’s what an entrepreneur does.

    Why would the government put anything in the way of a win-win business transaction?

    The law recently passed in Indiana (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) is being fiercely debated. I really don’t want to comment, much, on the moral aspect of the law, I want to comment instead on what it means to open your doors for business in the USA. While this law may purport to support freedom, at least in some ways, it limits freedom. And the freedom it limits is a long-standing American tradition, and one I personally treasure. As a young boy in Wilkes-Barre, PA my mother took me into a Jewish Bakery (Kornblatt’s bagels were the best!), a Chinese Laundry, and a Polish Butcher all in a morning shopping trip. We were always welcome in those shops, even though we weren’t of the same faith as all those vendors. They knew how it worked, you open your doors, and you welcome everybody.

    When you open your doors for business you’re saying you have a service or a product to offer. In the land of the free and the home of the brave — anyone — with cold hard cash can walk through your door and buy your offering. Someone coming through your door should always be welcome. Customers support your business, and, are validation of your business idea. Their money, in exchange for your product, supports the life you choose to live. Your customer supports your freedom — all your freedoms.

    Opening your doors for business means anyone should be free to buy — that’s the implicit promise you make.

    Isn’t that an American tradition? Wasn’t the civil rights movement fought to expand that tradition to all?

    What somebody does with your product or service, as long as it’s legal, should be of no concern to you. You might have an interest in what they do with it, but selling your wares does not give you a right to anything more than the money you are paid. Customer relationships ought to be cordial and professional and sometimes a lot more, but nobody has a right to expect anything more than the fair exchange of goods and services for money. Having a product to sell, having a going concern, does not make you better than anyone else — and it doesn’t bestow you with a robe and a gavel.

    Who buys your product also should not matter.

    I’ve had some difficult customers in my time. Challenging, difficult people can make doing business hard. Sometimes there are people I’ve agreed to work with I really don’t care for — and whose values I question. Some people come in your door and you have a gut feel that they are just Wrong. And — I still make my best efforts to give them the finest quality I have. Why? Because I hung out a shingle, I said I was Open for Business. That’s the deal you make when you open a business. Breaking that deal means you have no integrity, by opening the door you should be saying everyone is welcome. ALL paying customers are accepted — be they Jerks, Purple-tatooed-Punk-rockers, Pink haired goofballs, Scientologists, Amish, Beatniks, African American’s, Native American’s, anyone from Norwood, Ohio — or LGBT — not to single anyone out.

    Most unpleasant buying and selling experiences are bad for both the buyer and the seller. Guess what? The market will sort it out if given time. Paying customers go where they feel appreciated. Generally you only have to hold your nose once — and that’s part of being Open for Business. Sometimes people walk in who smell. That’s how it goes folks, that’s business in an open and diverse society. It’s fair to fire a customer if the deal isn’t a win-win — that’s negotiation — but if someone meets your terms, pink  hair or not, smelly or not, that should conclude the deal. There should be no other considerations. If you have strong feeling about how bad or evil you think your customer is, remind yourself that they are helping you pay your mortgage.

    Religious freedom ought to mean that your religion doesn’t ever step on anybody else’s religious beliefs and choices. Let’s keep our religious beliefs to ourselves unless we are invited to share. Let’s keep our judgements to ourselves and realize we live in a diverse society.

    Let’s keep the implicit promise we make when we open our doors for business — that we are open to business — let’s keep our word.

    If you want to discriminate, don’t open your doors for business.

     

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    Consumer Revolts – Future Trend

    “Coffee, tea, or, — hey, get the hell off the plane!” Nearly an entire cabin of passengers on a Ryanair flight revolted over the weekend. The incident caused a three hour delay for all passengers, even the non-trouble makers. Nearly 100 passengers deemed by the airline to have caused the trouble, were forced off the plane and must now book their own flights home. They will also incur lodging charges. Some will not be allowed back on Ryanair — those who disobeyed the cabin crew. I guess paying customers are pretty much “extra baggage” to Ryanair. And God forbid anyone should question the cabin crew!  This must be punished! The donnybrook started when a passenger (or a few) was charged

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    The easyJet Philosophy "You Screwed Up, You Trusted Us"

    I posted recently on a really spectacularly bad customer service experience I had at the hands of easyJet.  It’s just two posts down if you want some detail, but essentially I paid for priority boarding and didn’t get it.  I complained and asked for a refund. I finally heard back from them with regard to my complaint. Their answer: No. My interpretation/summary “You Screwed Up, You Trusted Us.” I find the letter (see below) almost comical, and will post it here for your comments.  Am I crazy or what?  Are they really saying they are not able to guarantee a service that I PAID FOR? I understand taking a risk in Vegas…I don’t quite get it here.  I’ll take a

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    Easy Jet, Making a Fast Buck Screwing Customers

    I’ve got nothing against the low cost, no frills airlines, they are a necessary market innovation.  They perform a real service and get me places I need to go. It’s part of the deal that you pay for food, get treated like a cow, and become intimate with people who don’t use deodorant. Airlines have to make money — I want them to!  On the other hand, it makes me very angry when somebody takes my money and doesn’t deliver, like Easy Jet. See, I’m a tallish guy, 6-1. Economy seats in planes are a bit of torture for me. So, I often take up the offer to get “Economy Plus” (that’s United’s program) or “Speedy Boarding” (Easy Jet’s) and

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    BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World (review)

    Customer service has been on my mind lately.  I’ve just had an awful experience with my web hosting company (Hostway, argh…) and it got me thinking. That’s why reading Barry Moltz and Mary Jane Grinstead’s new book, BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World was so timely for me. It’s helping me dissect how Hostway is losing their edge while I deal with my very real emotions about how I’ve been treated.  But enough about those…people right now, let’s talk about BAM! Let me say straight away this is a great book on the topic.  It’s direct, readable, and elegant with a lot of keen and fresh insight into customer service. I’d say much of it is “common sense”

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    Cineworld Cinema = Uncreative Customer Service

    Quick blog on a topic I often have the urge to rant about, customer service. According to the experts if you want to benefit from positive word of mouth your business has to provide Wow! customer service. Average doesn’t cut it, and bad service actually generates negative word of mouth. I recently bought tickets online to go see Iron Man. I was foaming at the mouth to see this film and was really looking forward to it. I showed up at the Cineworld in High Wycombe and, oops, there was a fire in the theatre (nobody hurt) and I was prevented from even getting within 100 yards. Things happen, I was glad everyone was safe, and so went elsewhere to

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    The "CAM Factor" — Consumer Anger Motivates (C.A.M.)

    I’ve coined a new term today — CAM, an acronym for Consumer Anger Motivates. If the CAM Factor is high, you buy something else! Let me explain… Everybody has consumer nightmare stories. Told afterwards they are often pretty funny. The old adage of “big problems make good stories” does apply. It’s not too funny when it’s happening though! I’ve suffered through a horrendous customer service experience with AT&T in the last few days, including several very frustrating phone calls, long delays on hold, hang-ups by the automated system, multiple transfers within the organization, frustrating attempts to do it myself on the web, and after all that — still not the desired result. A comedy of errors and it really made

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