Jack Mitchellâ€™s book, Hug Your Customers, Love the Results (Penguin, 2003) is a real winner. Drawing on his many years experience in retail, he describes the need to create a company atmosphere where your customers feel special, feel loved, feelâ€Œwellâ€Œhugged.
â€šWe use the term hugging to describe our unique selling cultureâ€ŒI think of hugging as getting everyone on your team to sell with passion so you develop long-term loyal relationships with your customers. Those are the keys: company-wide passion and long-term relationships. This company-wide relationship-building centered around the customer is what marketing gurus call relationship marketingâ€ŒHugging involves touching and listening to and caring about the customer, getting so close to the customer that the customer becomes more important than anything elseâ€› (p.13)
I wanted a hug last month. Not much to ask, is it? I wanted to set up with broadband â€? broadband with a hug! But instead, I got a slap in the face. So, in the wisdom of a tradition that says, â€šA trouble shared is a trouble halvedâ€›, I am about to show you 50 steps in customer-slapping rather than customer-hugging. Hold onto your hat, itâ€™s a bumpy rideâ€Œ
- August 16: went on-line to order Broadband from my supplier
- Order rejected
- Phoned the supplier
- Couldnâ€™t get through
- Phoned again
- Got through â€? put on hold â€? got disconnected
- Got through again: told my zip code was wrong on their database
- My code ends 7DG â€? they had 7DP
- I was told they could not change the database so I could not have Broadband
- I argued with the lady for 20 minutes
- I asked to speak to her manager
- All of a sudden, she found a way to change it!
- Received a letter: â€šYour activation date is confirmed as August 25
- August 25 came and went â€? no Broadband
- Phoned up â€? spoke to the lovely Laura
- â€šOh yes, itâ€™s been delayed. I will phone you back tomorrow to say itâ€™s doneâ€›
- Next day â€? no call. I phoned the supplier. Put on hold. Got disconnected
- Phoned again. Spoke to Clara. Work not done. Would be done â€šTomorrowâ€›
- Phoned the next day. Spoke to Brian. Said the work was not done
- asked to speak to a Manager
- â€šSorry, Mangers wonâ€™t speak to customers. They are far too busy for thatâ€›
- Brian offered to phone back on Tuesday at 3.00
- Tuesday 3.30 â€? still no call. I phoned them. Got disconnected
- Phoned back. Spoke to Cheryl. â€šA fault on the line needs fixingâ€›
- I told her what Brian had said to me about managers
- She told me Brian would never have said something like that
- Asked to speak to her manager â€? he was not in that day.
- â€šYour line will be fixed tomorrowâ€›
- I phoned â€˜tomorrowâ€™: work not done. Spoke to Martin
- Martin: â€šConnection could take up to 3 monthsâ€›
- I asked to speak to Martinâ€™s manager
- â€šSorry, Managers are not customer-facingâ€›
- Argued with Martin for an hour â€? I had nowhere to be!
- Martin told me I had booked a â€˜Residential packageâ€™. If I used it for business, they would sue me. Told me to cancel my order, begin the process again and order a â€˜Business packageâ€™
- After 75 minutes, got through to his manager, Kevin
- Kevin: â€šIt could take 2 days, it could take 6 monthsâ€›
- I threatened to sue for loss of earnings and breach of contract and hung up
- Oh â€? quelle miracle â€? the Complaints Department phoned me back
- Work will be completed Monday 6 September
- Monday 6 September â€? phone call â€? they have forgotten to do the work.
- Tuesday 7 September â€? phone call â€? part of the work has been done but they had to knock off early, so itâ€™s not finished. Canâ€™t guarantee when it will be finished
- Phoned the Chairmanâ€™s Office. Threatened to sue and go public
- â€šThe work will be completed tomorrowâ€›
- Tomorrow came â€? work not done
- Next day came â€? work not done
- Phoned again. Spoke to the Deputy Chairman in person
- 2 hours later â€? I had Broadband!!
- They wrote offering me a month free access as compensation
- I phoned said it was not enough. They said they would phone to rearrange
- That was 2 days ago. Have they called? What do you thinkâ€Œ?
Mitchell writes, â€šThe more you hug your customers, in both the time-tested and new ways, the more loyal they become. They will be your customers not only for today and tomorrow, but forever. The best huggers arenâ€™t just excellent at what they do. They keep getting better. They understand that there is no limit to how high the bar can be raised. The only limit is their imaginationâ€› (p.267)
My suppliers had no imagination.
All I wanted was a hug. They couldnâ€™t give me one.
Dr Steve Griffiths
Dr Steve Griffiths is a director of TomorrowToday.biz, a dynamic organisation that is assisting both large and small companies navigate the rich steams of the new economy.
Steve is in charge of the UK and European operations.