3 Killer Words That Piss Customers Off

Creating a great customer experience is everyone’s responsibility.

There’s three words that we have all heard some time or other and every time we hear them, it really pees us off every time. : Quack, Quack  “Not my job” Bad customer experience. 

When we hate hearing those three words ourselves, why do we go and say it to others when we are at work? Next time think about it before you pee someone off with any of the above three words. It makes no difference if your job is in sales, customer support, marketing, manufacturing, management or even the tea lady for that matter. Once you hear those killer words you know this company does not care about its customers / clients. I use the word killer words because that is exactly what people do when they say those words – they stand a great chance of killing that customer off for good, they will find an alternative supplier whose customer experience is better by far. And with social media you can do more damage than you might realise.

Brand Ambassadors

Every front line individual employee of any organisation is the spokesperson for that company he or she are your brand ambassadors. If you employ them then you should also trust them to be able to make a decision without having to pass the hot potato around by say “not my job” or responsibility.

Most companies have some form of an organisational chart which says this task or responsibility fall on such and such department and such and such a person in that department. This might be the case when it comes to internal politics but the customer doesn’t care all they want to do is resolve an issue or place an order not go in to the politics of your organisation.  So your front line employees need to be empowered with decision making policies to deal with the customer and not pass the hot potato by saying not my department. Take a leaf out of Zappos on how they treat their customers. Don’t let the customer go till their issues are resolved then make sure they are happy with the solution you provided or the result you achieved for them. So simple but not easy to implement depending on the size of your company.

Customers Come First

Each front line employee should learn to take charge and ownership of the problem the customer is facing without passing the hot potato around with not my responsibility or not my department. The customer is more important than the company’s internal policies, just think about it, if you don’t have customers you don’t have a business. Sales and profits are a by-product of having customers.

Each front line employee should be trained to the point that is beyond their job description to be able to serve the customer exceptionally well thus making the company more successful.

Bad Customer Experience

From the year 2000 to 2005 I purchased a brand New Range Rover every 6 months, so when the new number plates came out I had a new Range Rover waiting for me to collect. I had established a relationship with a Spanish Land Rover dealership who got me a right hand drive Range Rover every 6 months at a wapping discount of £11,000 each time because I was buying in Spain due to the discount arrangements the Spanish had with the manufacturers.

Each time I sold my old Range Rover the 6 month old one, in most cases I broke even, so it was costing me nothing to keep the motor for 6 months.

The problem started in 2005 when the local dealer in Birmingham who serviced the R/R and did not carry out the work I had been charged for. During the winter my back rear window kept misting up on the inside, later I found water had been seeping in through the seals and collecting in the hub by the spare wheel. I took the motor in and they repaired the leak under the guarantee. But three months later I had the R/R serviced and after paying for the service I got what I call a tick sheet saying what inspection had been carried out.

Two weeks later I go to sell the Range Rover as my next new one had arrived and a potential buyer is now looking over the R/R with a view to buying it. What did we discover?  not only still leaking in water but there was no way the dealer could have checked the spare wheel during the service as indicated by the tick sheet as it was surrounded by water which he would have noticed had he looked.

I immediately took this up with the management of the dealership who said they do not understand how this could have been overlooked and said if I were to bring it back they will look in to it, so what is the customer hearing, “it’s Your Problem” bring it to us and prove it. Then I went to complain to Land Rover head offices in Solihull who were as much help as the dealership, well you have to take it up with the dealership I am afraid they said. Again what’s the customer hearing “Not my problem”.

Needless to say I never purchased another Range Rover, the bad dealer is still there and land Lover who since have new Indian owners, lets hope things have improved.

Who Takes The Blame

The dealership is to blame as they did not carry out the leaking water repair correctly in the first place but charged Land Rover for the repair because the motor was under manufacturers guarantee. Then second time round being ripped off for a service which was not carried out fully but I paid in full.

Correct Way Of Holding On To The Hot Potato

A complaint of such nature should go straight to the top, in my opinion it is fraud, charging for something you have not had, yes harsh words but in fact true as the Trading Standards told me later.

They should have sent someone out to me to check the facts out, take my motor away with a replacement motor like for like until the matter had been resolved. That was the least I would have expected, additionally they could have tried to refund my service charges or offered a free service for next time but nothing.

Land Rover should have taken my details down and should have said Mr x we will investigate this matter for you my name is xyz and I will personally come back with the right answers, thank you for bring this to our attention. Not hard is it?.

With the internet and social media getting stronger and stronger and more customers voicing their views through social media, is it really worth losing good customers. If you are a CX Strategist then you know that it costs 5 to 7 times more money to attract and get a new customer than to look after and retain an existing customer.

Short Term Profits or Sustainable Profits

Most companies look at the balance sheets, profit and loss accounts to see how good they are doing, these profits are earned by loads of tactics which is short term is stupidity and a business killer. What they should be doing is looking at sustainable profits and this can only happen when you put the customer first every time this is better known as the Evergreen Clients For Life system.

As any CX Strategist will tell you that customer retention through customer experience is simple but hard work to implement, but once it is up and running with some program like Evergreen Client For Life or the Net Promoter Score system then and only then will you see your clients referring more clients back to you just like Zappos and 1,000’s of other companies now using systems that work by putting the customers first every time.

Every front line staff member should be trained that, once you are involved with a customer problem, it becomes your problem and your responsibility, not passing the hot potato to someone else, you see it through till the customer is satisfied without exception.

We value your feedback.

Moe Nawaz: Author – Speaker – Strategist Advisor & Mentor to FTSE 100 Leaders

18 Responses to “3 Killer Words That Piss Customers Off”

  1. Emily says:

    oh, yeah, those really get to me when I need customer assistance. I can understand if I’m talking to the wrong person or department but for an employee to pass the buck first before attempting to help is highly frustrating.

  2. Jennifer D. says:

    All three are negative and give the impression your company doesn’t want to take responsibility, just like Moe states from his own experience. These and all the ones similar should be forbidden. Put little signs above people’s workstations to remind people in call centres as well!

  3. Stephanie says:

    Two of them I could probably understand, but ‘not my responsibility’ good article.

  4. Steve W says:

    Up until two years ago I did not know what the words “customer experience” meant considering I use to work for the Hilton group as a manager, I now work for Costco by golly what an experience and a difference. We get better rate of pay because we love looking after our customers. We have been using the NPS to score our customer experience we fly in experts from America and work with local cx professionals.

    I can see how much of a difference it makes when everyone’s focus is on the customer, our motto is customer is king. Good article and some very good points, sorry to say our British hotels have a long way to catch up with our American cousins.

    • Moe Nawaz says:

      Costco, Orange, Enterprise are but a few of the companies making use of the NPS scoring system to support customers and staff. You are right Steve we have a long way to go in this country for the Customer Experience you see in the States. But I am sure the competition will sort the good from the very good in due time.

  5. K Quinn says:

    Having been in business running retail stores, hotels and resorts I know only too well the value of each new customer, you and your team work hard to add each new customer with the hope they will stay with you if you look after them, as you say “like royalty”. But to upset the apple cart you can lose them by the droves over night with social media. I know I have been there, that’s why customer experience is everything for every business.

    The smarter manager will see the opportunity in a complaint from a customer and immediately put it right and learn from the value of feedback.

    But managers who sits in ivory towers and say the customers are wrong and they know better, when the customer is in fact helping you to identify floors in operations, doing your job? makes you wonder how safe the ivory towers are.

    The NPS systems is one of the best I seen and used but people being people will try and create short cuts and screw the system up if you are not careful.

    Long article but kept my interest throughout, your other article about Zappos is great, keep up the good work. When are you next doing your seminars in America?, please let me know I have added myself to your newsletter.

    As Winston Churchill said “There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion”

  6. Kate Ward says:

    I was head of HR for Comet, yes the same Comet electrical super stores that went bust. We hired Moe a number of times for our management training days on the values of customers. If any of you know Moe, you will also know he will call it as he sees it. At one of the seminars we had over 300 managers from around the country and he called us a bunch of muppets because we could not hold on to our customers long enough. No one took offence but we took a lot on board that day from his speech, yes it hurts but the truth often does.

    Two years before we went bust Moe told us we were leaking customers by the bucket loads and the only way to stop it or slow it down, was to LISTEN to our customers. The important lesson we learned that day was, the difference between Hearing & Listening. We continued leaking customers, we all heard our customers but did not listen and look at what happened to us. Great CX Strategy Moe.

    Mr Quinn made some very valid points above, reflecting back now after the event with my employment with Comet, I can see all our faults but it’s too late now to do anything about it. Any mangers reading the above blog will see the value and importance of customers for every business big or small.

  7. Stuart Williams says:

    Great article on the Zappos customer Experience, my family all use them even dough they are 20 to 30% more in costs but the customer experience is worth it. But how do you change life time habits when the culture is so deep that you can not get employees to see the long term benefits, this is what we struggle with in our group auto dealerships?

    • Moe Nawaz says:

      Stuart, it all depends on the size of the organisation and what you guys have already been trying, what bits are working and what bits are not working in the culture difference? and how big is the gap between the ones that want to improve or are trying v the number who are not sold on the idea?

      There are a number of factors to consider and without having all the facts, I will only be taking stabs in the dark mate. If you want to send me some more information via my email address which I will ping you then I can maybe take a closer look and give you a quick opinion on the matter.

  8. Paula Smallwood says:

    We employ over 3,700 people and still growing in the UK and we are in the utility supply sector. We started using the NPS score system and in the last 3 years have seen significant change in customer retention because we are constantly listening to our customers and as someone above has pointed out, it is all about listening and not just hearing the customer.

    I am all for the NPS hard to get it going but now life is good for all the staff and our customers. Great system the NPS score.

    Good article, always look forward to your Evergreen Newsletter.

  9. Jackie Clark says:

    Great title “words that piss customers off”, love it, right in your face, like it or not, it’s the truth. Our company use to piss customers off and they would switch to the competition. The thought use to be well theirs plenty of customers out there so don’t worry. We would pass the hot potato around each time we had a customer problem and it would cost us a lot in customer retention at the end of the day, until a new manager joined us from Starbucks and told us about the NPS and customer experience.

    Customer Experience is every employees job but this will only happen if everyone buys in to it, you have to have belief in the product or service your company provides for your customers.

    Over the years we have worked with a number of CX strategists from around the world inc Bains happy to say it all boils down to: first selling the CX concept to top management them lower management, then front-line brand ambassadors as the bog points out rightfully and finally the rest of the employees right down to the cleaners and tea ladies.

    Simple but not easy, we have been using the CX with NPS to build our company for the 6 years with over 13,600 employees around the world. We are a corporate insurance and pensions company which is not a nice sector to be in at the moment but we are striving ahead of the competition only because of the customer experience or as the article describe evergreen clients for life by not pissing our customers off. Over the years we have had more referrals from existing customers than new customers from marketing.

    I would advice any company to start putting customers first in the race to win loyal customers.

  10. Moe Nawaz says:

    Some great customer experience feedback first hand from managers who are using some form of NPS and as expected the retention of customers is much higher for most and at the same time bringing the costs for marketing down.

    Keep it coming, want to hear your experiences, specially if your company has adopted the NPS and the difficulties experienced in the beginning for staff from top management right through to shop / factory / office floor.

  11. Jamil Khan says:

    We run a small accountancy practice employing 87 staff in three office all around London, how effective would it be to set up a NPS system for a small practice of our size?

    • Moe Nawaz says:

      Hi Jamil,

      The NPS system can be very effective for a business of your size and it can start to produce results within a few months. Check out a few CX strategists or Mastermind Strategists if your looking for a long term solution.

  12. Barry Taylor says:

    Customer experience is very poor with most main dealers they all want to meet their monthly targets by squeezing everything out of any customer each time they drive in for a service or a problem and charge you top dollar as well.

    Not good customer experience, poor very poor, like you say tactical profits and not sustainable profits.

    Wake up dealers and smell the coffee before it is to late.

  13. Sean Smart says:

    Why is it that the telecom companies never learn by putting us all on hold for ages only to find out they can help us or as you say pass the hot potato around. One would think they would have learned by now.

    Great example with main auto deal ships, they try and screw you out of every penny they can. I took my VW Golf in for service and they said my tyres will need replacing in another 2,000 miles and they can do a set of 4 of brand new Goodyears for £413. Later that week I got the same set of tyres for £238.00 and my main dealer said they were trying to help me out.

    Day light robbers the main dealers are.

  14. Steven Gillmore says:

    I think that 2014 is going to be the year of customer experience, any company that is looking to grow needs their customers. If you don’t look after them someone else will take them away from you and they will see to it that they keep them by looking after them.

    Keep the articles coming Mo.

  15. Moe Nawaz says:

    I think you might be right Steve. I work with a lot of high growth entrepreneurs and leaders and the most important factor we focus on is looking after the clients / customers for life once you get them in.

    Without any customers you don’t have a business, profits and sales are a by-product of attracting and retaining customers. It’s the only way to grow any business.

    Most businesses go bankrupt due to lack of customers.

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