Most customers who complain can be satiated by a smidgen of humanization.
She bought something, and it doesn’t do what she thought it would/should do, so she decides to contact “Customer Support.”
Many companies are failing to deliver even the first (and most important) component of humanization which is having an easy way for said disgruntled customer to reach a HUMAN to express her disappointment. Most companies force us to endure several layers of BS before finding a human with any interest in helping. Websites talk about how much they want our feedback and how they want us to be COMPLETELY satisfied and then are relatively absent when we call for help.
Having recently moved into a house (needs extensive up-dating) on a large piece of land in a very rural area, I have had many “opportunities” to buy new equipment (tractor, Mower, Trimmer, Paint, etc), and I have learned a LOT about the importance of humanization along the way.
Given the 2 months of OTJ “training” I now have, this could be a VERY long post, but I’ll distill it down enough to make my point by specifically citing some FANTASTIC experiences . . . and some flops.
T-Mobile – Just before moving, I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile because it’s about 1/2 the cost for WAY more “stuff” – Unlimited Everything for 3 phones at a crazy low price. Unfortunately, the house I bought is in this fabulous geographical “bowl” nestled in a “Holler” with high ridges above on 3 sides. While this makes for a perfect setting (It’s at the end of the civilized world and only 10 miles from anywhere I want/need to go in Nashville), there is ZERO T-Mobile cell service there . . . Interestingly, Verizon users have 3 bars. ACK! I did not want to have to go crawling back to Verizon and have to pay their lofty prices, and I dreaded contacting T-Mobile Customer Support (Expecting low humanization), but I needed to resolve this, so I opted to use the Customer support chat on the website. Lo and behold, I had the MOST productive and lively and humorous and uplifting conversation with a guy who totally hooked me up with my very own FREE “mini-tower” which pulls in t-mobile’s signal to my house (and about a 1/4 mile radius of the house) with 4 bars . . . PERFECT customer service experience.
Lowes is good for browsing but not so great in the “expert advice” department, and I’ve learned that their products are good “light to medium duty” products but not rugged enough for most of my needs. Additionally, ALL of the Lowes employees are nice and friendly (good humanization traits) but have limited knowledge and limited inventory. If what you need isn’t something everyone needs, it’s probably not in their inventory. The result was that I’ve been trained to go to Lowes first (marketing did this), but the only thing I actually bought there was my trimmer/weed-eater. They couldn’t advise me on which riding lawnmower would be best for my slopey property, didn’t have the HVAC filter size I needed, the paint department was too busy, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was that they didn’t have the “transfer fitting” for the gas line for my dryer . . . SO . . . I decided to shift my strategy to do research on-line and shop local, specialized companies rather than wasting my time going to Lowes.
TriGreen Equipment – Hendersonville After research and advice from a few friends, I had decided that I need to buy a John Deere riding mower. Uncertain about which one to buy and with limited help from the Lowes “expert,” I noticed this sticker on the back of the seat of the mowers, so I hopped in the car and headed to Hendersonville where I found Kip who schooled me well on the right mower to buy. I paid significantly more for the one I bought than the one at Lowes, but I’m certain it is the best choice, AND it comes with annual service with people I trust. Humanization . . .
Nashville Lawn Equipment – Having learned my lesson, my next need was a push mover that could CLIMB because I have a few hills that require that. A few Google searches later, and I was confident which mower I wanted to purchase (Husqvarna Rear wheel drive with Honda engine) but wanted to confirm, so I found Nashville Lawn Equipment where I bought one AND now have another trusted source for service.
Hart Ace Hardware has filled in virtually ALL of the other gaps. Thus far, they haven’t failed me once. I walk in the front door and am always instantly greeted by someone asking what I’ve come for . . . I describe it, and they walk straight to it and help me decide the best solution. I’m shaking my head in dismay that I have spent all these years of frustration wandering the warehouse of Lowes or Home Depot and coming away with the wrong stuff only to have to return it wander more another day . . . Why do that when there are HUMANS who really are experts at what they do and are anxious to serve.
Pods – Initially, this was a fabulous experience. The pod was delivered as promised – The delivery guy was very nice and attentive . . . Then I had it moved to my new property for a couple of weeks until getting possession of the house.
That was April 10. By April 15, I got the POD emptied so they could pick it up before another month of rent was billed. I went online to arrange for pickup and discovered there were no time slots available for pickup til the 28th. I called customer support (Concerned they would bill me for a month I didn’t need), and found a very pleasant lady who waived the next month rental and scheduled the POD to be picked up on the 28th . . . On the 29th, the POD was still sitting there, so I called back . . . The earliest they could promise was the 18th of JUNE . . . That POD has been sitting in the same spot for 6 weeks now – EMPTY! Apparently there are no humans that work for PODS here in Nashville . . . I’ve given up on calling them and will likely turn it into a tiny house and chain it to a tree if they don’t show up on the 18th.
So . . . All of this say . . . Here we are in a day in time in which it’s very easy to neglect our collective need for Humanization.
We can all muddle along in the single dimensional plane of electronic communication and remove all emotion and empathy . . . A world in which everything is just another transaction . . . OR we can wake up and smell the coffee and develop and way that is more human based.
This week, I am closing on 2 houses. My client is selling a house and buying another. When we first looked at the house she is buying, we were able to meet the listing agents (Whom I know) and learn more about the Sellers and to let them know more about my client. This humanization at the beginning made that transaction flow SO much more smoothly than most.
On the selling side of things, there was less interaction and more anxiety . . . not on purpose, it just was the way it was.
So . . . yesterday, we were all a bit on pins and needles of uncertainty wondering if everyone is OK and ready to close as scheduled until Stephanie (the other agent) called me to ask a few questions, and we ended talking for a long time . . . at the end of the conversation, she told me how sweet her Buyers are and that they are concerned about my Seller “being taken care of” during her move.
This was a little thing to pass along but a HUGE step for humanity in my eyes and the eyes of the client.
My hope is that this post will give you a nudge to work on your humanization skills in both your personal and business lives.
Let’s keep things REAL and multi-dimensional 🙂