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Does Likeability Trump Customer Service? Sometimes Yes! Vasudha Deming

Likeability trumps CS crop2 Does Likeability Trump Customer Service? Sometimes Yes!A recent expe­ri­ence I had as a cus­tomer has chal­lenged my hereto­fore rigid insis­tence that I won't buy from com­pa­nies who pro­vide poor cus­tomer ser­vice. I've since gone over the sit­u­a­tion in my head sev­eral times and each time I come to the same con­clu­sion: Some­times the human ele­ment, with all its foibles, is more com­pelling than skills, pro­ce­dures, and best practices.

Here's the story…

I called a local busi­ness to get a bid on replac­ing two bro­ken win­dow panes and putting new screens on sev­eral win­dows. It took a few days of back-and-forth mes­sages to get an appoint­ment set (per­haps the first red flag), but the bid was fair so I hired them to do the work.

They told me they would return to the house in a few days to com­plete the job. They didn't. A few days turned into a few weeks. Some start-and-stop work then stretched the sim­ple job to a month and a half. Along the way, mea­sure­ments were lost, calls weren't returned promptly, and large shards of bro­ken glass fell into my home.

On paper, it was a cus­tomer ser­vice night­mare. But that's the thing—it wasn't on paper. Despite break­ing sev­eral car­di­nal rules of cus­tomer ser­vice, the pro­pri­etor and his scruffy work crew were oddly com­pelling with their charm­ing accents, exu­ber­ant per­son­al­i­ties, and an obvi­ous zeal for the busi­ness of win­dows and screens. Three ticks in the like­abil­ity column.

Add to that the fact that I enjoy sup­port­ing small, inde­pen­dent busi­nesses (espe­cially ones which hap­pen to be in my neigh­bor­hood), and all I could do was stand by as my 15-year com­mit­ment to cus­tomer ser­vice evan­ge­lism went mute.

One of the key prin­ci­ples in Impact's HEART Model™ is "respect diver­sity." In this case, I decided that diver­sity means there's more than one way to get the job done. Maybe respect­ing diver­sity also means allow­ing myself to be simul­ta­ne­ously shocked and sat­is­fied with the ser­vice I receive as a customer.

Vasudha leads the Per­for­mance Solu­tions Team at Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, reg­u­larly work­ing with lead­ing com­pa­nies to improve per­for­mance of their customer-facing ser­vice, sup­port, and sales teams. She is a lead devel­oper of Impact's suite of train­ing courses and has authored four books, includ­ing the pop­u­lar Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games, all pub­lished by McGraw-Hill.
5 Does Likeability Trump Customer Service? Sometimes Yes!
Vasudha Deming
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