You know what its like… you buy a product and then your problems begin. It can be any product or service but it appears that the simple catchphrase- service- has gone out the window. Just about everyone I know has a story about something they bought in good faith turning to mud.

Take buying a computer online, nothing too problematic with that, if you know what you are looking for. Delivered to your door within ten days. They will even ring before delivery. Perfect!!!!  The phone rings, it will be delivered between 8am and 5pm on Wednesday. Hang on, I have a prior engagement, “Can you make it Thursday?”

I’m sorry sir, you will have to get in contact with the company you bought the computer from, we are just the delivery firm”
“Well can you deliver it on Thursday?”
“I’m sorry sir, you will have to get back in contact with the computer company”
“I bought it online”
“I’m sorry sir, you will have to get back in contact with the computer company”
“Can you deliver it to a different address on Wednesday then?”
“No sorry, we can’t verify that you are the purchaser”
“You are talking to me aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry sir, you will have to get back in contact with the computer company”

Now I’m confused

I hunt through the confirmation emails, Yes, they debited my credit card 13 minutes into the original transaction. Ah-ha, a phone number….
“Yes hello, I bought a computer from you online and I need to change the delivery address as the delivery company want to deliver it on Wednesday and I’m not home Wednesday.”
“I’m sorry but we cannot change the delivery address without the consent of the original purchaser”

Now why is it that they are always sorry? Its not like they sound sorry or even sound concerned… rather its like, you dumb ass, can’t you organize your life so you don’t have to hassle us. Now I am starting to feel sorry for them…. Don’t weaken, keep your resolve, after all, they have already debited your card!!!

“I am the original purchaser”
“This purchase was done online”

What’s that got to do with anything, all I want is to get my computer delivered

“Yes, that’s right, I purchased the computer online… you debited my credit card immediately”
“I’m sorry sir but I didn’t debit your card”
“it’s a figure of speech, Sorry” (now I do feel sorry) “I would like to get the computer delivered on Thursday”
“We can’t change the delivery address over the phone, sir, you will need to fill out a change of address form”
“Forget that, just deliver it on Wednesday, I will take the day off work and wait around”
“I’m sorry sir,” (there goes that sorry word again) “You will have to get in touch with the delivery firm to confirm the delivery”

Something told me this was going to be a bad day

“Yes hello, I was talking to a representative of your company about getting a computer delivered”
“Yes sir, what was the address of the delivery?…. oh I’m sorry sir, that delivery has been cancelled”
“Is it possible to reinstate the original delivery, I have organized my whole life so that I can accept the delivery on Wednesday between the hours of 8am and 5pm”
“There is no need to be rude, sir, we are a delivery company”
“Yes, I was hoping that you might be able to make a delivery of one computer?”
“I’m sorry, sir, we can’t do the delivery on Wednesday… would Thursday be OK?”


It appears that service is something we once talked about, something that is too hard to achieve so businesses just carry on as they are. I am sure that you all will have experiences, similar, if not as extreme.

The interesting point is that it takes so little effort to help someone, especially if it is your job. You see, work is where we get paid for carrying out a service. Part of that service is being helpful to customers, whatever your job. Even if you never have contact with customers, your actions are carried out so that the customer will be satisfied and therefore buy the product or service that the business you work in, produces.

Now, who is a customer? You had better believe that he is your real boss.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
– Sam Walton

Consider these facts

* It costs at least 5 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one
* 68% of customers abandon a business due to poor service
* Small businesses which emphasize customer service are more likely to succeed than competitors emphasizing price
* According to the Customer Service Institute, 65% of business comes from existing customers.
* Poor service costs you money

Now you are starting to see why service is so important. Its actually common sense. If you help someone, they will feel indebted to you. They will remember and they will come back… nobody wants to have the example I started with, happen to them, and yet, it happens to the majority of us everyday to a greater or lesser degree.

I heard of a case just yesterday of a kit home company threatening to take a person to court. The person faxed a letter to the manager of the company complaining because the company had never bothered to return the person’s calls or to answer any queries and this had gone on for 5 months. In the letter the person stated that he would tell others of his experience with the company as an example of how not to run a business. They immediately replied with a fax stating that the use of any defamatory material would result in the necessity for legal action.

Now wait a minute… they didn’t bother to contact him and because he is upset and talks about it, he ends up with the threat of legal action. What happened to good old service?

Here he was, letting the company know of his troubles and they threaten him. At least he had the decency to let them know… most people wouldn’t have bothered. They would have just done their talking with their feet…. away from that company!

If they were so concerned with protecting themselves from defamatory remarks, surely the best place to start would be delivering a great service. It shows how far we have progressed away from service.

My computer did arrive and it’s a beauty. I’m really happy with it, now that its in my hot little hands, but the effort I went through to get it here wasn’t. It could have cost me half as much again in lost earnings… Thank goodness they could only deliver it on Thursday… not the Wednesday they had originally hoped for.

Cheers…. Bill

Bill Gray

Bill is a Business Coach. Working with Individuals, Businesses and Organisations to create better environments and to develop and enhance business ”potential”, into successful business practices.

Sydney, Australia

Ph +61 413 949 521

Copyright ©Bill Gray All Rights Reserved 2004.