Wednesday, April 21, 2010

There is Hope for Customer Service


Today I got a response to my letter to the president of JC Penney.

A very nice person called to assure me that JC Penney took customer service seriously and that my glasses would not only be replaced, but my warranty on the lenses would be good for a year after I get the replacements and they were also sending me a gift card. She also assured me that she would follow up and give me a call when the glasses were ready for me to pick up.

Frankly, I don't need any gift cards, although I won't turn it down. I am, however, very happy to see that the company responds to complaints and wants to keep customers satisfied. The sad part of all this is that it took a letter to the president of the company to get action, which means that they need to do some employee training!

I know the economy isn't good, and usually training is one of the things that companies scratch from the budget under such circumstances, but management should think twice about NOT training employees in customer service skills. The lady who contacted me on behalf of JC Penney said that one call to a regional manager from the local employees could have solved the problem quickly. I'm sure the local employees would have been happy to get me off their backs with a phone call, but it didn't happen.

Marketers... make sure your company is doing its best in customer service and protect your "customer lifetime value!" All the advertising dollars in the world can't un-do the damage that results from bad customer service. And be happy if customers complain. You'll have the chance to fix the problem. If they just walk off and don't complain, you don't have a clue that there is a problem.

I'm waiting for JC Penney to follow through.

Monday, April 12, 2010

AT&T and Verizon are Wising Up!

In the email news I received today from Advertising Age, the online publication reports that AT&T is dropping its whiny response to Verizon's "apps and maps" campaign for a more positive campaign concept. I'm not sure what "Rethink Possible" means, but at least AT&T seems to have gotten the message that spitting contests don't do much for the average consumer.

The article also says that Verizon is expected to shift gears to a more positive campaign message.

This is a good thing! Maybe the two communications giants will give us some solid reasons to buy their brands instead of acting like kids having a playground spat.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Letter to the CEO of #139 on the Fortune 500...

Well folks, after no attempts by the J.C. Penney personnel to keep this long time customer and card holder happy, I finally had it today.

I've called and called about my lost glasses and all I get is the answering machine at the J.C. Penney optical department in Mobile. I've left messages asking for the department manager to call me back about my glasses. No call backs! No nothing!

So I just finished a letter to Mr. Myron Ullman, President and CEO. It will go in tomorrow's mail and should be in Plano, Texas by Thursday or Friday. Perhaps Mr. Ullman will get the picture. If not, I'll know that the problem is company-wide and that J.C. Penney is too fixated on door busters and one day sales to care about customer lifetime value, which can be computed in dollars and cents. Just ask Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart knows its customer's value in terms of sales and profit dollars over years of buying, and teaches its employees how much bad service can cost the company.

Obviously J.C. Penney hasn't taught its employees as well as Wal-Mart. That could be why the company must have a "sale" every weekend.

Nor have the J.C. Penney employees been monitoring the web for any "bad news." If they had, they might have answered my blog quickly, like did. "Abe" gets an A+ in "net savvy", and has redeemed itself on the customer service front! I will return to the site for purchases in the future. Not so with J.C. Penney.

J.C. Penney, you just failed the marketing 101 midterm. I hope you do better on your final.

Marketers, keep an eye on your company's customer service and take action to protect that "customer lifetime value!" Train employees in the art of customer retention. It's as important as any of the "p's" in the marketing cycle!