Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Customer Service Gone Bad

It was an odd phone number from Nebraska that wasn’t listed in my phone.  I racked my head trying to figure out who it could be that was calling me; was it someone whom I had recently met and given my number to?  I wasn’t in a spot to take the call and they didn’t leave a message so I was left to wonder.  It was a mild annoyance but I was in the middle of a short vacation and quickly moved on to other things.

It wasn’t until I got back that I decided to do some quick internet sleuthing to see who this mystery caller had been.  Maybe I’d gotten lucky and won the lottery…in Omaha?  I did a quick Google of the number and the answer surprised me.  It turns out that many people had been receiving calls from the same number; Omaha Steaks (OS).  There’s a whole list of frustrated (ex)customers here.  A few months ago I placed an order from them for a Father’s Day gift and now I was receiving calls from them.

The thing is, this company is trying to do the right thing but doing it all wrong.  It would be much better off had they not tried in the first place.  Most businesses that want to stay around implement some form customer service outreach.  It’s a good way to stay engaged with customers, solicit feedback and hopefully, gain additional sales.  After all, previous customers are the best source of future sales since they’ve already discovered your company and expressed an interest in your product/service.

So what is OS doing wrong?  By not leaving a message they are coming across as, well, quite frankly, dirty.  Assuming they absolutely feel its imperative to speak with someone live, all they have to do is say “Hi this is Omaha Steaks calling.  Sorry we missed you.  We’re calling because you’ve previously done business with us and want to let you know about a current promotion we’re running.  We’ll try back again soon and hope to catch you at a more convenient time.  Until then, keep those BBQ’s fired up!”  I would have been much happier to receive that but instead, got nothing.

I called OS’s customer service and spoke to a friendly lady named Robin.  She explained that my call would have come from one of their Outbound Call Specialists and that they don’t ever leave a message.  “They’ll keep calling every couple of weeks,” she explained, “unless you’d like me to take you off our calling list.”  Well, there you go! 

I’d like to praise them for offering to take me off their calling list…but I just can’t.  Clearly it’s been an issue for many customers and that’s how OS is addressing it.  Rather than provide quality, helpful customer service, essentially, they are volunteering to stop talking with customers.  According to the company’s web site OS has been around since 1917 and opened a telemarketing facility in 1999.  Presumably that’s where my call originated from.  Someone should tell this family run business that “the way we’ve always done it” isn’t the best way to keep doing it.      

Omaha Steaks represents itself as a high quality meat company but calling customers and not leaving a message does not support that.  Ultimately, this gets to the idea that EVERY touch point you have with current and potential customers is a reflection of your brand.  In this case, OS’s actions are misaligned with the brand identity they are trying to create.  But that’s a conversation for another time.  Until then, stay focused on delivering QUALTY customer service that WOWs people.  If you have any similar stories, please share the lesson!

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