You Are In The Business Of Customer Service or; The Buck Stops With You


Howdy gang! Wanted to talk about an important issue today that just happened here over New Year’s Day leading through to today. Namely, the issue of customer service. I can tell you that so far, this is the first major problem we’ve encountered regarding end customer issues with picking up Rabbit in the Road.  The reason I bring this up, is because you are the FINAL LINE OF DEFENSE on customer satisfaction. It’s not the guy that ships a customer’s order, and it’s not the vendor of your product. It’s YOU.

Whether you understand it or not, you are a manufacturer of product. You are the wordsmith, you are the one that puts the words down, you are the one that puts that product into a position so that it can be consumed by a readership. You need to be willing to not only take responsibility, but also fight on behalf of the people who WANT to partake in your experience, even if it isn’t necessarily your fault.

With the exception of personal information (which is clearly blocked out), this is how the situation played out.

I was contacted by reader Tim M. who was interested in reading the book. He went and made the purchase on Barnes & Noble for Rabbit in the Road to be read on his Acer Iconia tablet, mostly as a gift for his wife as she is a big reader. Strangely enough, when Tim went to download the book, it didn’t appear in his library at all. There was no purchase, nothing.

Perplexed, I asked Tim to forward me his receipt for the purchase, so I could double check and see what was going on, as evidenced below:

I went and took a look at the sales information (which appears very, very quickly through Barnes & Noble’s PubIt! platform), and even I could confirm that for whatever reason, the transaction never showed up. I have zero sales information for this sale. At this point, Tim has received a receipt, has even had his bank account drawn for the transaction, the works. He hasn’t received a product that he paid for. Tim, at this point, is understandably livid. Following this, he took the next reasonable step and contacted customer service to try and get it sorted out and receive what he paid for. This is what he received in response.

For whatever strange reason, the downloadable sample was considered the “live” copy of the book. It wouldn’t let him download it into his library because the sample was there, so he logically removed the sample so that he could download the proper copy. Be it software glitch or whatever reason, Tim now has absolutely NO ACCESS to the product he purchased. Zero. None. Customer service isn’t working with him to ensure that he has it, and because of the wonkiness of the transaction? We’re not receiving any royalty from it either. So far as we can both tell, this transaction simply didn’t happen. We didn’t receive royalty, and he didn’t receive product.

Now, I could have said “Sorry bro, tough luck, I don’t know what’s going on” and washed my hands of it. Let me tell you why I DIDN’T. 

Because regardless of what happened, Tim isn’t Barnes & Noble’s customer. Sure, he gives them money and they give him a product, but he is MY CUSTOMER. He is purchasing MY PRODUCT. The actions of a vendor can and do reflect on me. If I had washed my hands of the situation, it says volumes about the content of my character, and of the “business” that we’re running here, the business of happy readers and happy customers. We all know the story of “An unhappy customer is more likely to tell 10 people of the terrible experience they had.” This was the situation sitting right in front of my face. A vendor screwed up and didn’t want to make it right. I WANT to make it right, and so I took the following action:

This surprised Tim, and this is what he had to say in response:

Now, let’s observe and analyze the situation. Because of the actions that I took, Tim absolved me of any wrongdoing that the vendor had committed to him, and by doing so, I made our bond even stronger as content creator to customer. Did we lose money by pleasing our customer? Yes. We lost the ebook sale (since the transaction seems to be floating around in Voodoo Land), and we lost a few dollars off the print copy should Tim decide to go ahead and utilize his coupon for it. But that doesn’t matter.

The NUMBER ONE TENENT  OF CUSTOMER SERVICE: Repeat service, and referrals. Pleasing the customer should always come FIRST, not last.

Odds are very very likely that because of me being proactive, empathetic, and sympathetic to Tim’s problem, he is more likely to say, “Hey, this guy did me a solid. Stood up and took responsibility for someone else’s mess up in order to make sure I was happy.”

The customer is the life blood. The reader is the life blood. If we don’t have readers, all we have are words that aren’t getting read. This is someone going, “Hey, this looks like a cool product. I want to enjoy it. Let me give you money because I feel that it is worth my time and my resources.” Don’t spit in their face, it’s a privilege to receive that attention and desire to partake in what you’ve made. It really is in essence, this:

Barnes & Noble ended up losing a customer today, and that is unfortunate for them. I however, gained a potential life-long one. Why? Because I sat down, evaluated, saw the value of Tim’s time and limited resources, and decided to make the call that making sure his being able to fully enjoy what I created was worth more to me than a couple of bucks. Tim is MORE LIKELY to recommend my book to others, and is MORE LIKELY to recommend any other product that I create, because he can say that he had a good experience dealing with me, from top to bottom.

So remember. You are the last line of defense, you are the buck stopper, it is your responsibility to fight on behalf of your product users. You need them, and if you are faithful to them, they will be faithful to you.

~Oliver

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