Jack Mitchell’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, feel‌well‌hugged.
‚We use the term hugging to describe our unique selling culture‌I 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 marketing‌Hugging involves touching and listening to and caring about the customer, getting so close to the customer that the customer becomes more important than anything else‛ (p.13)
I wanted a hug last month. Not much to ask, is it? I wanted to set up with broadband � broadband with a hug! But instead, I got a slap in the face. So, in the wisdom of a tradition that says, ‚A trouble shared is a trouble halved‛, I am about to show you 50 steps in customer-slapping rather than customer-hugging. Hold onto your hat, it’s a bumpy ride‌

  1. August 16: went on-line to order Broadband from my supplier
  2. Order rejected
  3. Phoned the supplier
  4. Couldn’t get through
  5. Phoned again
  6. Got through � put on hold � got disconnected
  7. Got through again: told my zip code was wrong on their database
  8. My code ends 7DG � they had 7DP
  9. I was told they could not change the database so I could not have Broadband
  10. I argued with the lady for 20 minutes
  11. I asked to speak to her manager
  12. All of a sudden, she found a way to change it!
  13. Received a letter: ‚Your activation date is confirmed as August 25
  14. August 25 came and went � no Broadband
  15. Phoned up � spoke to the lovely Laura
  16. ‚Oh yes, it’s been delayed. I will phone you back tomorrow to say it’s done‛
  17. Next day � no call. I phoned the supplier. Put on hold. Got disconnected
  18. Phoned again. Spoke to Clara. Work not done. Would be done ‚Tomorrow‛
  19. Phoned the next day. Spoke to Brian. Said the work was not done
  20. asked to speak to a Manager
  21. ‚Sorry, Mangers won’t speak to customers. They are far too busy for that‛
  22. Brian offered to phone back on Tuesday at 3.00
  23. Tuesday 3.30 � still no call. I phoned them. Got disconnected
  24. Phoned back. Spoke to Cheryl. ‚A fault on the line needs fixing‛
  25. I told her what Brian had said to me about managers
  26. She told me Brian would never have said something like that
  27. Asked to speak to her manager � he was not in that day.
  28. ‚Your line will be fixed tomorrow‛
  29. I phoned ‘tomorrow’: work not done. Spoke to Martin
  30. Martin: ‚Connection could take up to 3 months‛
  31. I asked to speak to Martin’s manager
  32. ‚Sorry, Managers are not customer-facing‛
  33. Argued with Martin for an hour � I had nowhere to be!
  34. Martin told me I had booked a ‘Residential package’. If I used it for business, they would sue me. Told me to cancel my order, begin the process again and order a ‘Business package’
  35. After 75 minutes, got through to his manager, Kevin
  36. Kevin: ‚It could take 2 days, it could take 6 months‛
  37. I threatened to sue for loss of earnings and breach of contract and hung up
  38. Oh � quelle miracle � the Complaints Department phoned me back
  39. Work will be completed Monday 6 September
  40. Monday 6 September � phone call � they have forgotten to do the work.
  41. Tuesday 7 September � phone call � part of the work has been done but they had to knock off early, so it’s not finished. Can’t guarantee when it will be finished
  42. Phoned the Chairman’s Office. Threatened to sue and go public
  43. ‚The work will be completed tomorrow‛
  44. Tomorrow came � work not done
  45. Next day came � work not done
  46. Phoned again. Spoke to the Deputy Chairman in person
  47. 2 hours later � I had Broadband!!
  48. They wrote offering me a month free access as compensation
  49. I phoned said it was not enough. They said they would phone to rearrange
  50. That was 2 days ago. Have they called? What do you think‌?

Mitchell writes, ‚The 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 aren’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 imagination‛ (p.267)
My suppliers had no imagination.
All I wanted was a hug. They couldn’t give me one.
Imagine that.
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.

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