10 November 2009 by Jim
Smarta is feeling slightly more zen-like than usual today. And
it's all thanks to one phone call.
Having pilfered thousands of hours of our lives navigating
Escher-esque labyrinths of customer service automated options,
having languished whole days waiting for customer representatives
to pick up the phone, finally it seems one company has got customer
service spot on.
Casio's camera department gets three gold stars. We were having
awful trouble with a camera battery, you see, that point blank
refused to charge. Exhausted, exasperated and more than a little
disappointed, we reluctantly resigned ourselves to the fact we'd
have to give up the next 45 minutes to get through to someone who'd
tell us to send an email to someone who would call us weeks later
to tell us we had to buy a new one as we were outside our
Instead, we found ourselves calling an 0208 number, rather than an
extortionate 0845 one. It was answered about as immediately as
modern technology will allow, by a polite young gentleman who
kindly informed us he would put a new battery in the postbox that
Quite the revelation. Now, the digital-camera buffs among you will
point out the caveat here. The non-charging battery fault is well
known in the echelons of Casio aficionados. The company should of
course give you exemplary customer service because they'd
previously made a mistake.
But many don't. Smarta had the unfortunate experience of being
overcharged £220 for a phone line that didn't actually exist
earlier this year, thanks to Virgin Media. Did they instantly
recoup us with profuse apologies and a complimentary month of
service? Did they billy-o. We had to spend almost an hour being
transferred between departments, repeating the same problem to
people who continued to try to either sell us more services or
install ones we already had.
We then had to wait days until someone called us back by which
point we got so stroppy we were put through to a higher level -
only to be told we had to go to our bank to get the money back.
Good job Virgin Media.
Now contrast a vision of the rage that left us with against the
warm, satisfied feeling we were left with after dealing with Casio.
It probably costs Casio significantly more to provide that level of
customer service. But, boy, is it going to earn them more in the
long term through customer loyalty and free marketing thanks to
Smarta's appreciative tweet. Whereas Virgin Media gain nothing but
a lost contract and a bad rep.
The motto of this story? If you make a mistake, it's not the end
of the world, provided you immediately apologise and do everything
you can to make it up to the customer in as painless and pleasing a
way as possible.
But if you follow up a fault with service equitable with dog
defecation - well, that's pretty much as bad as it gets for the
customer. That is the end of the world.
And once you've grasped those fundamentals, you can start
getting onto the really good stuff: monitoring
unsolicited feedback like the above across social media, repsonding
instantly to complaints, thanking people for
positive comments, and gradually building yourself a fantastic
That's what the very cleverest customer service departments
around are doing at the moment. And it lets them respond
in double-quick time, because they have employees monitoring and
using the networks all day long. Now that provides great customer
service. But more on that from Smarta soon...