Don’t Let the Customer Go Down with the Ship

Written By: Karen Patterson


Costa Concordia wreckage off the coast of Italy - Picture via Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press

Early last fall, I purchased some jeans through HSN (Home Shopping Network). About three months later, I thought…umm…I was billed but never received them. The gal at HSN told me they had indeed shipped to Peoria, Arizona. My reaction was “WHAT! I LIVE IN MICHIGAN!”

Apparently, HSN’s shipments are based on phone numbers, and my phone number was in their database under another established customer in Arizona. I said, “How can that be? I’ve had this same phone number for over twenty-five years.”

Well, that is another mystery in itself. At that point I didn’t care. I just wanted my money back because I knew someone else was wearing my jeans. The lady graciously agreed to credit my charge. I was most relieved when the refund appeared on my statement, and now, I still have a favorable attitude toward HSN.

At Bastian, we want our customers to view us as the good guys and gals–the best at customer service in the material handling industry. Good customer service boils down to having good relationships with your customers. You have to be the vendor with whom your customers WANT to do business. Building relationships leads to repeat business, and we all know that’s what makes the world go around.

In mid-January, off an island in Italy, did Captain “Coward” Schettino of the cruise ship, Costa Concordia provide good customer service? No, of course not! He abandoned thousands of his customers, while he got himself to shore. Apparently, the captain and his second in command “tripped” into a life boat and were not able to assist in guiding their customers–their guests–to safety.

For goodness sake, no one believes that! When the port authority insisted he return to the ship, he refused with all kinds of excuses. No women and children first for him. A complete failure to coordinate rescue operations on the stricken vessel! This was not only a matter of not offering the product the customer was expecting and paid for, but some actually lost their lives.

Good customer service makes the best of a bad situation. Do not abandon your customers. Be fast on the draw! Sometimes the results might not be perfect, but your all-out effort is what your customers expect of you–from beginning to end. This is what gains their respect.

Look at the contrast between Captain “Coward” and Captain Sully Sullenberger on the frigid Hudson in New York City a few years back. Talk about the ultimate in customer service. This pilot glided the crippled US Airways jetliner to safety and then traipsed up and down the aisle twice to verify that no one was missed by the rescue team. Do you want to be considered the true hero or the lousy cad?

Personally take care of your customers, be polite, keep them in the loop, follow up, and finally, let them know you appreciate their business. Great customer service goes hand in hand with great success in business.

I am the Customer Service Specialist for the Bastian Solutions Northern Region, working out of the Novi, Michigan office. I joined Bastian Solutions in June of 2006 and have been in the material handling industry for over 25 years.

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1 comment

  1. Aaron Jones says:

    Karen, Awesome article and hitting home on so many regards. Thanks.

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