People buy PEOPLE

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A story about why personal brand and communication skills matter most

Today I ordered some flowers to be delivered to a friend. I had 10 minutes to get it sorted so I didn’t have time to shop around. I quickly did a Google search and jumped on one of the first websites I saw. The website was very clearly set out with some lovely flower arrangements. I thought they were a bit pricey but I went ahead and placed a call.

Now here’s my honest – and necessarily brutal – assessment of my customer experience. 

Mistake in customer service #1: False niceties 

When I stated which flower arrangement I wanted (I’d picked it out before I phoned) the lady on the other end said in a false and sugary tone, ‘Very nice choice. That one is my favourite too.’ The way it sounded, I felt like a five-year-old choosing a lollypop at the candy store.  Well done me, the assistant approved of my choice.

I’m in a hurry – you can probably tell by my voice – I don’t care for your condescending niceties. People aren’t stupid. Be real.

Mistake in customer service #2: Not checking understanding 

This lady needed to get a bunch of personal details right in order for this to be a successful transaction. I had to correct her on the address for the flowers, the recipient’s name, and my own. I don’t mind repeating myself, but I had to cut her off to correct her, because she wasn’t checking if she got it right.

She got the credit card number on the first go though.

Mistake in customer service #3: Lack of attention to detail

As she was ending the call, my customer service attendant called me by the name of the person I was sending the flowers to, not my own. I actually had to ring back to make sure she’d addressed the card right.

Not only did I not feel special, but my friend ran the risk of not feeling special either when she received flowers addressed to me.

(Potential) mistake in customer service #4: Not being aware of what needs fixing

I wonder if anyone will check on my experience or that of my friend on receiving the flowers? I will be honest with my feedback, but I won’t bother unless I’m asked.

No matter what you sell: People buy people 

Like I said, I was in a rush. The transaction was done, and there was a receipt in my inbox instantly – whatever, but I won’t be using that company again. This was just a bunch of flowers – but the same principle applies to any product or service. I can think of service providers I, or people I know, have spent big bucks with and had about the same level of customer service I received with my floral experience.

Just a couple of side notes: These flowers were pretty but no different than any other flowers. So the differentiation is in the customer service! Also, if you order from the website you are most likely to have a terrific customer service experience – this company has put a lot of thought into online and apparently neglected real life. Sure, many people will order online – but some will call or pop in to the store. And there are some businesses that rely on face-to-face, phone or Skype for the majority of their customer experience.

Your personal brand – your manner, your values, your skill in and approach to the work you do – create your customer’s experience. In the end, people buy people – I would have paid even more for the same bunch of flowers if I knew the service would be exceptional. When someone (maybe one of my business clients whose company might frequently buy flowers…) asks me which florist I’d recommend, I’ll be telling them which one I wouldn’t.

That could be a lot of flowers this company might miss out on selling in the future.

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