Last week, we had a couch delivered for our office from Living Spaces. The driver was on time, and he even made a phone call to let us know he was on the way. All was going well until the delivery company arrived at our front door. The driver walked in, accessed the moving situation (they had to climb a flight of stairs), and then proceeded to ask us to sign a waiver.
What did the waiver say? It said that if they damaged our property while moving the couch in, they would not be liable for the damages. Somewhat incredulous, I asked him to repeat himself to make sure I understood correctly. I said, “So what you’re telling me is that if you bring this couch upstairs and you scratch our wall on the way
My spouse, a general contractor, tried to reason with the guy. She explained if she goes into a customer’s home to remodel a bathroom or kitchen, and she damages their home (even if it was an accident), she is liable for damages. The delivery company would not budge, so we put in a phone call to Living Spaces. To our complete disbelief, Living Spaces didn’t want to be liable for damages either; and they wanted to charge us a restocking fee if we didn’t take the couch. The story continues, but I won’t bore you with all those details.
Aside from getting out of the furniture business, here are a few lessons Living Spaces, and all small business owners can learn about customer service:
- Make your Customer Policies Crystal Clear and Visible to Customers – there should be no surprises for your customers on your policies. Make them visible in multiple places – website, email receipts, signs, etc. Let your customers decide up front if they want to do business with you based on your customer policies.
- Treat your Customers the Way You Like to be Treated as a Customer – you cannot expect preferential treatment as a consumer, and not provide the same for your own customers. Always put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Be fair. Be reasonable. And you will receive the same in return.
- Never Get Firmly Rooted in your “Customer Policy” – I am a firm believer that policies are guidelines, but they require flexibility. If your company locks down on policies and is unable to hear the customer’s perspective, you will lose customers. And those customers will spread the word (as I am right now). Make sure they are spreading a “good” word.
- Deliver a “WOW” Experience to your Customers – every business is going to experience customer problems along the way. But you can turn lemons into lemonade with a commitment to going above and beyond for your customer. Your customer will remember how you handled a negative situation, far more than the situation itself.
- Train Your Staff How to Handle Customer Complaints – too many customer service agents have no idea how to handle customers when they are upset and angry. Invest in conflict resolution training. Coach your employees on how to diffuse anger. Ultimately, your customers want to be acknowledged and validated for how they feel.
Even though I love my couch I purchased from Living Spaces, I will not buy from them again. The experience I had with them left a sour taste in my mouth. With just a few minor changes, they could have sweetened the experience for me, and potentially had a customer for life.
5 Lessons We Can Learn from Living Spaces About Customer Service
June 26, 2017