Why Custmer Service is Important to your Communications Strategy.

On Saturday, I headed to my local Barnes and Noble store to exchange a DVD set that I purchased in July and needed to exchange. I picked up the newer season of the DVD and headed to the cash register. The book associate was prompt and kind. He plug the new movie  that was released and recommended I pick up that as well. He looked at my receipt and then said the following: ” Oh, we only take exchanges after 14 days of purchase.” First thought that came to mind, “Damn.” Second thought was, “I am sure that given this box set is unopened, it shouldn’t be an issue,” I was wrong.

The book associate, parroted back the same response back to me. I retorted, ” Help me out here, I am exchanging the same priced DVD set for the newer season? I’ll save you the trouble and you should get your manager.” Manager came over after 15 minutes and regurgitated the same policy. So, the manager said that there was nothing they could do for me. Say what? Just an issue for operations? Nope. This is a communications issue.

Here are  my 3 tips for folks who are in communications and why they need to keep a close eye on customer service:

Bad word of mouth with hurt your brand reputation. Every customer interaction counts.

While Barnes and Noble has great customer service overall, I have told everyone this weekend about my experience. My immediate sphere of influence will think twice before they purchase at BN. I also posted a note on tweet and received no response. Huge social media no-no. Not responding to a complaint is like hanging up on me in front of the whole twitter audience. Bad move.

It is harder to keep customers than it is to get new ones.

Why is this a communications problem? In communications, you are looking to persuade prospective clients or other audiences on hearing what you have to say. Hard to communicate with a market where your reputation is negative.  There are many examples of this in the news: Progressive Tumbler issue, United breaks Guitars, etc.

Customer is Right Sometimes, but Make the Investment. See point #2

So, after this #failed customer service experience I did some math. I have multiple book cases in my home. So, I took a look at one bookcase there were a total of 108 books. Let’s account that since I am a member I received 10 percent off, accounting for the multiple types of business, marketing, and PR books that the average is $15.00. One book case equals $1620.00. This doesn’t account for the multiple magazine, gifts, my Harvard Business reviews, etc. $1620 a year or $0 dollars? Makes $53.99 ( the cost of the DVD set) look like an investment rather than a inconvenience for Barnes and Nobles.

As a communicator, I am often amazing with the lack of apathy from the associates. I completely understand their position, but a little sympathy would have gone a long way. Now from a their perspective this small transaction, one of many that day. From a communication and marketing perspective, this would have been an opportunity to win over another customer. Instead, this small, minor interaction will have great impact on my future purchases as in none and WOM as in telling everyone to not shop there. Will people listen, maybe. Will they pause for purchasing from the store, definitely.

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