Posted on : 20-06-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Customer Service, Personal
I wanted to share a recent exchange with a Customer we will refer to as Bob. Today he sent a number of emails to my team with feedback centered around the web design of one of our websites. I read the emails while I was at my aunt’s funeral. They were colorful, but showed the passion this Customer has on the topic. Although web design is not something I see changing immediately, the feedback was valuable. Based on the specific content of the emails I chose to respond directly. After his third email I responded with:
“I do want to thank you for all the feedback. We would be happy to share it.”
Customer’s response was:
“And I, in turn, want to thank you for your condesending attitude, which I too, will be very happy to share. Oddly, you don’t seem to be such shit head on your blog. Condescending, yes, but less of an asshole.”
Wow! I really don’t get paid enough for this! I was actually shocked because this was certainly not the intent! In addition, I never thought of myself as either condescending or an asshole. I was stunned! Okay, in retrospect, maybe I have been one of those when I received poor service. You can decide which one.
There is no doubt that emails can easily be misinterpreted. With the exception of SCREAMING emails, there is no way to clearly convey tone or emotion in print. In today’s blackberry world, we are all emailing and texting as quickly as possible, aren’t we? To avoid further miscommunication, there was only one thing to do. I picked up the phone to speak with this Customer.
We had a productive conversation. We discussed many aspects of the Customer experience, and how web design has an impact on this. I explained my thoughts on sharing feedback and the manner companies respond to that feedback. Occasionally decisions will be made that Customers will never like. To me it then comes down to the way it is presented and discussed. Bob’s feedback was regarding online ads. There is always a delicate balance regarding revenue and impact to the Customer. I explained that I was not sure the ads would go away, but what he was pointing to was more in design. Hopefully as design is updated, something can be changed to make it less of a pinch point. This is something that will take time.
At the start of the conversation he confessed that he was less angry with me and was developing a connection through reading this blog. Specifically he connected to a story I related in a post “Frank, Where Are You.” The story was about Lily pouring bleach all over my clothes. I told him he should check out the Desitin story in the post “So is it Time to be Frank.” In service the best interactions always have a personal touch. I cannot tell you how often I hear, “How can you put yourself out there in social media?” Many even say that they would use a different name. People tend to be afraid of their Customers. If you are afraid of Customer, how can you ever connect with them? I have had strange things happen, including someone that bought my domain name as a “gift.” He pointed it to the original Gia website, but since then he changed it to point to negative website about the company I work for. Even with something like that, I still try to connect with Customers. If my feeling ever changes, it will be time to look for a new career path. That to me is what service is all about.