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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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12.17.09         customer service  

Customers Don't Care About "Why"...and they shouldnt have to


Yet another little business lesson. Hope you guys aren't getting sick of these.

When I was in my nightmare apartment way back when, yes, the one with the broken air conditioner, I had the following conversation with the AC repairman:

Me "Were you able to find out why its so hot in here?"
AC Dude "Well, I can tell you the the AC is working fine."
Me "I understand that, what can we do to get the temperature below 92?"
AC Dude "Sir, your air conditioning unit is functioning properly and is at full capacity...its working."
Me "Again, I understand that the AC unit is working as you said. Why is it so freaking hot in here?"
AC Dude "Im not sure, all I can tell you is everything is working fine"
Me "So why is it, if I go next door, their apartment is a cool 76?"
AC Dude -Shrugs Shoulders "Im not sure"
Me "So if I understand you correctly, if my AC unit is working at capacity, its normal for it to be 92 degrees INSIDE my apartment?"
AC Dude, now getting angry "I told you the AC is working!!"
Me "You need to leave." I walked to the front door opened it and pointed him out (Yes this really happened).

Yesterday, as I was upgrading my store, there was an error and some of the DVDs were missing. I called my new programming team leader, who when we signed told me I would have 24 hr emergency support-

Team Leader "Please fill out a ticket request and we can look at it tomorrow"
Me "?!@%&^@(*# - Are your freaking kidding me?"
Team Leader "We transferred the site exactly as we found it on the server"
Me "All my products were there this morning and they aren't now"
Team Leader "We did exactly as you requested, to update your store, if your products aren't there now, its because they weren't on the server"
Me "They were on the server this morning"
Team Leader "Its probably your hosting companies fault, you should call them"

I was livid (BTW- on this one, the programmer found the mistake and corrected it. The Team Leader and I have made amends and everything is cool) But I share this as an illustration.

So today...I get to be on the other side of the fence:

A customer calls and asks for a refund for a DVD I know we shipped to her. Long story short, she had ordered a DVD, and then wanted to change her order, so she purchased another DVD, but it was after we had sent the other, yet before she received it. Physically impossible to do once it is sent, and the reason it was sent early was because it was a pre-order. So at this point we had sent her 2 different DVDs. Per policy, I usually give refunds on unopened (or in the rare case damaged) DVDs as long as they are first returned, and depending on the situation, they may have to cover return shipping. I told this customer the policy, but she was upset because my call center told her she would be able to replace the DVD, which was true, but now that we had sent her 2, there was a possibility she wouldn't return the 2nd DVD. All I was asking her was to return the second and I would refund her- she was not happy.

In the middle of the discussion, it occurred to me, that I was now standing on the other side of the fence. I could explain to her all the little reasons why we were in this situation, I could explain to her that it was somehow her own fault, or why we shipped the pre-orders early, or how the post office picks up orders for processing or why we could retrieve the order once sent but the thought occurred to me: "Customers don't care about "why" - They want results. She showed good faith in me- show some trust in her.

I have always believed that despite all the scams that cross my path, I owe a tremendous amount to so many people out there that take the faith to send me, a complete stranger, money to send them a DVD. That is a sacred trust and if you are in business with anyone, you have to keep it.

If you ever screw up, through misunderstanding, or carelessness or even pure accident, I've learned that most people will forgive you quickly if you just admit it and try to make it right.

Nothing turns a customer off faster than someone who tries to shift the blame or make excuses for a job poorly done. It is much easier and efficient to keep a current customer happy than to try to find a new one.

Customers don't care about "why" and you should never expect them to.

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