I bought a new telephone. I liked it so much that I bought a new tablet from the same manufacturer. But the tablet didn’t work with my cellular provider, so I called them. Within minutes, my telecommunications company had me up and running. But the next day I made a change to my shared data plan, and the tablet quit working. So I called the telecom provider again. This time, no dice.
Long story short, the telecommunications giant sent me to the manufacturer who sent me back to the telecommunications company. I now have a new tablet and a new SIM card, and I still can’t connect.
The telecommunication company said the needed to escalate me to level 3 support. That sounded good. But level 3 support doesn’t take inbound calls, so they scheduled to call me the next morning at 9:00 AM. Perfect. Except they didn’t call. So I called them, and the nice customer support specialist offered to give me a $25 credit on bill for having missed my appointment, apologized, and told me that they would contact me in 3 to 5 days.
I explained that as much as I appreciated the gesture, that money wasn’t really at issue. What I really needed was a confirmed appointment, since my schedule is really tight and I travel. I explained that it would be better for me to wait 10 days and have a confirmed appointment than to have a call come in when I am almost certain to be unable to take it.
Patiently, I explained that I felt that I was being treated like a transaction. I told her that what is most important to me as their customer is to be able to get help at some point when I can actually be available, that the relationship is what really mattered. She insisted that I am not a transaction, that in fact, I am very important to her company. And then she again offered to give me a $25 credit on my bill.
That was 6 days ago. This is the very same organization that wants to sell me their newest, most expensive offering, one I was prepared to purchase.
Saying you care doesn’t mean that you care. Saying that your clients or customers are important to you doesn’t make it true. You have to walk the talk. Intentions matter. Sincerity matters. If you lead a large, bureaucratic, behemoth, the best thing you can do is empower your people to make a difference instead of transacting. You have to help them walk your talk.