Winning and Losing Customers Is … a Choice!

service, customersWould you agree that some organizations seem to purposely choose to lose customers? It’s as if they go out of their way to do so.

While other organizations (the excellent ones) choose to win/keep customers by simply following the advice of Maj. Frank Burns of M*A*S*H 1970s fame who said, “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.”

Not a bad customer service philosophy, eh? 🙂

Let’s look at two customer service paths organizations—and people—can choose. These real stories come to us from real people who are real customers. Thanks to Eli and Kelly for their stories!

How To Lose A Customer

I purchased a camera from SJCAMHD.COM (a video camera seller), and they shipped it directly from China.

The camera I got was defective; it didn’t record audio. When I emailed them, they acknowledged that the batch my camera came from had defective audio components. They told me to send it back to them.

When I asked how to ship it, they told me to pay to ship it back.

What!?! Totally unacceptable, since they had admitted the camera was defective!

Then, I got an email telling me to pay them $10 dollars, which I thought was poor customer service, but reasonable and I would be willing to do that to get my camera replaced.

When I asked for more information, they explained that the $10 was for them to ship me back the replacement, but I still had to fork out $25 to send the defective one back to them.


So, on top of $159 I had already paid them for bad product, they expect me to pay $35 more for replacing their bad product.

What they didn’t know is I’ve bought other cameras from them and posted on Youtube great reviews for them. I also have an “SJCAM Fans” Facebook page with more than 650 followers. When I explained all this, the response was, “We have stick to policy.”

Well, what a bad policy it is to lose customers over shipping costs for your mistakes.

How To Win and Keep A Customer

When my daughter married, we needed to pay the venue bill in advance. I called the bank, reaching Lorie, to have them authorize the amount on my debit card. After giving her the information, she told me it could be a little while before we heard back. I asked her to rush it because I needed the money the next day. 

When I returned to my office after lunch, Lori had left a voicemail telling me the dollar amount was approved. I immediately called back to thank this young lady for her prompt service. We talked briefly about the wedding and she wished our daughter and our family the best.

The story could’ve ended there and all would’ve been wonderful. 

But then a note from the bank came in snail-mail. It was from Lori congratulating us on our daughter’s wedding. Her words were, “Enjoy the day and cherish the memories” and it was signed “Your Capital Bank Family.” Truly, this was an extra mile moment.

In one chapter of the Outstanding! book we write “Put People Before Policies”—clearly the camera company does not do that and paid the price. But Lori is an example of another chapter titled, “Never Forget Who Pays the Bills.”

The difference is starkand simple: Treat the customer how you’d want to be treated. It’s not rocket science. Anyone can choose to do it. Which means any organization can be outstanding!

Is your organization outstanding? Comments welcome!

Grab your copy of Outstanding! (or one for each of your team members) right here!


7 Responses

  1. I recently was needing to take my 2014 Equinox in for an oil change. Now, I love this vehicle, but shortly after I had bought it, I discovered it does not have rear air. Most of the time, I do not have any passengers in the back seat, but when I do, and it is warm, it is not a good situation to not have rear air. So, I have been seriously thinking about changing vehicles, and possible upgrading to a newer model of the Equinox, as they have started putting in rear air. So, I was setting up my oil changing appointment and happen to get the dealership manager. I asked him if the new Equinox models now had rear air? He said he did not know for sure, as he was pretty busy keeping up with everything else to know that, but he would check it out with his sales guy. At first I thought, this dealership owner should know this, but I thought, I would probably have to find this out on my own. To my delight, when I showed up to drop my vehicle in for an oil change, not only did the dealership owner let me know right away that the new models, do have rear air, he had me take a brand spanking new 2018 Equinox (with rear air) to use while my oil change was being done. You talk about someone that listened to their customer, and went the extra mile to please a customer, and potentially make a sale!!! You can know, that I will definitely be saying good things about this customer!!

  2. Customer Service; one of my favorite topics. It was 98 degrees yesterday here in NJ, and after wrestling to remove a car battery that died too soon, I hauled my tired self into our local Costco. ‘Betty’ met me with a smile, and a apologized for the inconvenience. She asked me for my membership card; it was then that I realized I left my wallet at home. “No problem, I’ll find you in the system and find your original purchase date; give me a second.” As I thought about my good fortune and great service I then realized I didn’t have money to purchase the replacement. Angry with myself, I called my wife and asked if she could swing by and….. “Wait,” said Wonder Woman behind the customer service desk. “I’m going to give you cash back; you can make your purchase without your wife’s help.” “Honey, I have the best service rep in front of me.” She completed the transaction and took care of everything. I gave her a high-five, and I was on my way. That is why we continue to return to Costco….oh and they carry the 2lb bag of Fritos.

  3. My Ford dealerships service department sold me my newest car. I had car trouble on a Saturday and dropped the car off for repairs, my sister was visiting and we could use her car to run errands the rest of the weekend. I asked if they had a shuttle, and was told that it only ran during the week. Since I live nearby, I turned to my sister, and said it was only a couple of blocks, it would be cold, but we could walk (it was below freezing). The service manager said, “Stop, I’ll get one of the salespeople to drive you home.” He didn’t want us to walk, even a couple of blocks when it was that cold. When I decided to give up the car a couple of years later, I made sure the guy who sold me the new car knew that it was the service department who deserved the credit.

  4. Good article — I think we can take this one step farther and treat our employees with the same “niceness”. If we treat the people well who serve our customers, we all win. Customers are treated well, employees love the company and we end up with more of both– it’s not a “vicious circle” but an “ambitious circle”!

  5. I do leadership training and my group was at The Westin in Indianapolis. The day got away from me and I had not made dinner reservations yet. I asked the concierge if she would mind making dinner reservations at a local restaurant for 14-16 people. Within the hour she had texted me that we had been taken care of and the restaurant would be expecting us at 6:00pm. I was delighted. When I arrived at the restaurant we were seated and the promptly brought us a table full of appetizers complimentary of The Westin! Needless to say, my entire group was impressed with the customer service we received that evening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *