Managing Customer Expectations – Part 3


Managing Customer Expectations – Part 3

TRANSCRIPT: Each of these three examples of bad customer service could have been non-events if these businesses had just managed my expectations in advance. For example, the restaurant should have printed an up to date wine list. How hard is that? Delta could have just had the flight attendant tell us in advance. Finally, American Express could have contacted me differently to verify charges on my card. All of those issues could have been avoided.

None of the solutions they provided to me lessened the bad customer experiences. The “I’m sorry” from the waitress wasn’t enough to make me go back to the restaurant or even make me try a third time for an in stock wine. So what was the cost to each company in this? Well, the restaurant as I said probably lost about forty dollars that night. What about in the future though? I am not keen on going back right away. It was a bad experience for me. It wasn’t horrible, I wasn’t angry, I didn’t storm out of there, and I didn’t call anyone names, but it was a bad experience. These things add up, so they have lost some business of mine. 

With Delta, it probably did nothing. I am going to keep flying Delta. They have got great rewards. That is the way it is.

What is the cost to American Express? First, they lost ninety percent of the business that I used to do with them that I now do with Visa. On top of that, they also paid two customer service people to talk to me in a condescending manner for what felt like more than thirty minutes each. See, that is the real cost here. They have to maintain a gigantic call center just to talk to pissed off Platinum Card holders like me because they simply won’t be proactive. They simply won’t manage my expectations.

Instead, they choose to protect themselves. That is probably, by the way, the reason I moved my spending over more than anything else. Their customer service person who is supposed to provide this great customer service said, “Mr. Stauning, we were just trying to protect you by not allowing that charge.” Now, I know that is not true. They are not protecting me at all. They are protecting themselves because had that been a fraudulent charge, I would have disputed it and not had to pay anything. The moral of the story is that they chose to embarrass a Platinum Card holder rather than be a little proactive or take a little bit of a risk. That is unfortunate because they really are a good company, I think. They just have not empathy for the person at the other end.

AMEX’s added costs and the losses like at the restaurant could have been avoided had they simply cared about the customer. Just manage expectations. A cashier at Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken gets it. She is probably making less than ten dollars an hour, and she can manage my expectations. So these big companies should be able to as well.

The Short and Sweet version for you is: Let’s manage customer expectations. Let’s keep customer service issues from happening in the first place. That is the best kind of customer service that you can provide.