Sheesh. Why do they ask for feedback if they don’t want it? I sent back the customer comment card. No, I was not happy. If I place the call for air conditioner repair for the building I manage, I expect that I will get a call back letting me know what work was done and what followup is required. At a minimum, I expect that if I have to track down the company to find out what was done that I will get an explanation and—perhaps—an “Oh, we’re sorry. We did explain this to the person onsite, but we understand we should have called you back.” And if I have had to provide my credit card to cover payment for the work, I am all the more sensitive to wanting a followup call.
Color me crabby when I make the followup call and get attitude and huff. Surely it is not unusual that a building owner (the firm that employs me) is offsite?
So I filled out the customer satisfaction questionnaire. And I said that I expected to get a call back and I expected that if I had to make the followup call that the information would be courteously delivered. I don’t demand an apology, but I do demand courteous followup.
I believe in customer service. I give a lot of credit to vendors who attempt to improve their service levels. So when someone sends me a customer satisfaction questionnaire, I fill it out, particularly if I think there is some clear step that the vendor can take to improve their service. Seeking disconfirming information is a sign of maturity and good business practice.
But, guys, if I am not happy, you will not bully me into being happy.
It is not my fault that you had trouble finding the building—you had my phone number and could have called me, you had the address and could have used Mapquest, you could see from the exchange that my location was not the same as the building’s location. (Yes, we can still make that calculation in Vermont.) But did you call? No.
It is not my fault that you didn’t meet my expectations of getting a call back. I do expect this of vendors: if I make the service call, I expect to get a call back that the work was done and what followup is required. I accept that I have to educate vendors the first time I work with them that this is my expectation, and I accept that some will not be able to meet my expectations. And in certain fields, demand for vendors is such that I have to put up with behaviour that does not meet my expectations. This is not one of those fields.
It would not have been a deal breaker if, when I tracked you down, you had delivered the information courteously. But instead you gave me a lot of defensive guff about how you had a hard time finding the building and how 99% of your customers have the requesting party onsite. The 99% figure is suspicious, but even if it were true, I am not interested in how things are for your other customers. And if you had a hard time finding the building, why didn’t you call? We cannot take cell service for granted in Vermont, but as it happens, there is good cell service around the area where this building is located. If your service technician could call your dispatcher, certainly one of them should have been able to call me for directions. But nobody called for directions, nobody called me when the work was finished, and when I tracked down someone for information, you took out your frustration on the customer. Way to make sure I don’t want to repeat the transaction!
The vendor called me when my customer satisfaction questionnaire arrived back in their office. I took a deep breath and called back, hoping for an improved interaction, but the pseudo-apology was really just a defensive “explanation” of why they did what they did. In the end, this firm does not offer any advantage over their competitors. In fact, I have existing relationships that don’t require me to pay upfront with a credit card, but I took a chance on them in order to get a quick response. Still there are other options. Smart competitors recognize that there are always other options.
I would have been happy to give them some feedback, would have been happy to provide information rather than simply voting with my feet, which is what most unhappy customers do. I give them credit for asking for feedback, and I wish them well in the future, but I won’t be exposing myself to a repeat of this negative experience. Ironically, it was not the failure to call me that was the negative experience, it was the badly managed customer satisfaction discussion. Perhaps they will get it right with the next customer. I hope so.