Most customers don’t care about you – they don’t care how good you proclaim to be. They feel nothing about the average experience and knowledge of your employees and they are really not that impressed with some of your veiled promises. Almost all customers want to experience great customer service and not just hear about it. They want your business to ‘get it done’ – to deliver professionally on your promises all the time, every time.

Let me explain – websites should give a good impression of the company, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into good customer experience. Company slogans, like “Putting You First”, sound great, but don’t necessarily translate into good customer experience. A set of corporate values, important as they are, don’t necessarily translate into good customer experience. Good quality fashionable uniforms look very professional, but don’t necessarily translate into good customer experience. Only good customer service translates into good customer experience!

One of the biggest sigh-causing e-mails, messages or digital reminders, that is, if you get any, is the one that reads: “Please renew your driver’s licence at the traffic department in your city” or “Your identification card is about to expire – please apply for a new card, for your convenience, at the Home Affairs Office near you”. Very kind of them to consider my convenience – but now I have to stand in a queue together with 50 million other citizens and this is hardly convenient!

Call centre agents, however, are definitely the worst with whom to deal – they know nothing about the word “empathy”. The word “empathy” is not part of their vocabulary and certainly not part of their training. If you do get through on the call centre number, the electronically-generated voice says: “You are number 542 in the queue. Please be patient as we are experiencing high call volumes currently”. I am not surprised that there are so many customers phoning in, as you get dismal service in their stores. At any rate, why are they not completely honest? The electronic voice should just say: “We are hopelessly understaffed, therefore, be prepared to wait half a day for a response”. Anyway, you wait patiently and get to just 23 people left in the queue and then the line goes dead – the telephone service provider electronically made the decision to cut you off as it seemed like you had forgotten that you had made that call. You now have to start again. You decide to go into the store, but the one in your city has closed down, so you have to drive to a neighbouring town to find a store there. You stand in the queue at the client service counter and venture a faint wry smile when you get to the agent. The agent listens to your request and then answers with the response: “Sorry sir, we don’t deal with that here. You have to call the Client Services number”.

After throwing a tantrum that would have made any two year old impressed, you retreat back to your office to lodge a query on the website – after all, they do say, “Speak to us”. You now note that they didn’t say “We will answer you within two working days or two working months or even two working years”. In my case, I am still waiting for the response and I lodged a complaint five years ago! I have never worn the bra that they sent me – I am a male and perhaps a little overweight, but I don’t believe I need a bra – not yet anyway! I had ordered a T-shirt online (size XL) – I now believe that the folk that kindly package ordered items in the warehouse felt sorry for me as I received a large cup luminous red number that would look really good at the Rio Carnival. I still have the bra – just in case I get to Brazil in the near future!

So, what do customers really want from companies? They want a really good customer experience in whatever way that they interact with the company. They want politeness, professionalism and empathy. They want to feel understood. They want to feel noticed and not ignored. Noticing a customer is a lot cheaper than giving away luminous red extra-sized braziers.

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