Let’s accentuate the positive first.
Having shelled out countless bucks for store-bought razor cartridges over the years, I signed on with Dollar Shave Club a little over a year ago. (If you haven’t seen it yet, click on the link and see their promo video on the home page. It’s a hoot!) Each month, DSC sends me a set of four cartridges, four blades each, for just $6. Whereas I used to stretch my store-bought cartridges to more than two weeks to save some shekels, I can change out DSC cartridges weekly at lower cost. I have a tough beard, so my face is grateful for the fresh blades each Sunday.
My only complaint is the handle. The connection between the handle and the cartridge is a bit wimpy, and I’ve busted two of them in a year. The DSC handles aren’t pricey, so for my next order I had a couple thrown in. At the same time, I sent DSC an email through their website saying I was a fan of their product overall, but they ought to take a look at quality control on their handles.
Immediately after I submitted the email, I received an automated confirmation with a promise to follow up. That follow-up happened just four hours later. I received a personal email response from Nicole. She addressed me by name, apologized for the broken handles, promised to pass it along to DSC’s quality team, and then said she had removed the two extras from my upcoming order and added two higher quality handles at no charge.
I was pleasantly surprised. I immediately wrote back, thanked her for her responsiveness and added that this is why I tell people about DSC. Less than an hour later, she wrote back to thank me for promoting their product and for being a customer they value.
That, my friends, is how you do customer service. It was fast. It was positive. It involved both an apology and prompt action. And they affirmed my importance to them as a customer in a very personal way.
Contrast that with a certain technology company—which I shall not name—that provides VOIP telephone service to a nonprofit I know in Michigan. Or I should say, a company that's supposed to provide VOIP telephone service.
When the nonprofit switched its system over a month ago, a crucial toll-free number wasn’t included, potentially leaving people in immediate need unable to get help. This began weeks of back-and-forth emails in which the tech company showed a distinct lack of urgency around the issue. It reached the point where the company’s contact stopped responding to phone calls and emails seeking updates. Finally, in frustration, the nonprofit’s CEO threatened to take the issue to the news media. This seemed to raise the issue to a higher level, but as of this writing the number remains unconnected.
Being responsive to your audience is the best PR investment around. One need look no further than Flint, Michigan, to see the worst consequences—not merely to reputation, but to human life—when the worries and pleas of your public are ignored.