I’ve just had a bad customer experience that could have been avoided with a phone call.
I hired a company to help with develop a product. They gave me a specific delivery date, then missed it by weeks, causing me to lose money. When I emailed my sales rep to tell him how disappointed I was, I received back a very short email from him that basically said, “This is why it happened. Thanks for understanding.”
I emailed back with more specifics on why I was upset and he replied with another short and sweet email (hoping I would go away). I’ll never do business with that company again. His emails made the problem worse. What should he have done? He should have picked up the phone immediately, called me, and smoothed it out in realtime.
Here’s a good rule for running a business, I call it the 2 Minute Rule.
If one of your customers sends you an email that indicates that they are not happy with your service or product, within two minutes, pick up the phone and call them to talk about it. If you can, do it even faster.
This will produce surprise and delight.
Imagine emailing a sales rep at one of your vendors a nastygram and then having your phone ring a few seconds later with an answer. Chances are, you’ll have a conversation that leads to a positive resolution. Chances are, the business relationship would continue or maybe improve through the experience. Try it. If you run a company, you should require your sales reps and customer service managers to live by the rule.
As I mentioned before in a previous post, research indicates that tone of voice is five times more effective at conveying your intentions than words on paper (or in an email). When you pick up the phone, you increase your effectiveness at resolving customer service issues.
The alternative is hiding behind email and hoping for the best.