A while back I signed up for a year-long program with a well-known guru. I pay a monthly fee and in return I get certain services and goodies.
The same day I signed up, the first email I got (after the "Welcome we're so glad you're here" one) invited me to sign up for a month long program for the month of December. The email stated that it was going out to his complete list, affiliates and joint venture partners. It was also posted on Facebook.
Strangely enough, the month-long program was scheduled at the same time as our weekly webinar for the program I was paying for. So it seemed that I was paying for a program for a month that was offered to the general public for free. Hmmm.
So I emailed to ask what was going on.
First I got a phone call saying "I understand you have communicated by email with [name] and you want to know the difference between the free program and the one you signed up for. "
Wrong. I wanted to know why I was being charged for a program that was being offered to the general public for free.
Strike One: they hadn't read my email accurately.
I emailed again stating my concern clearly.
This time, my email was passed up the line from the customer service staff to the guru himself, who wrote back stating that yes, he was offering this to the general public ("I am making a generous offer to them"). And then came the crunch: "In providing all the value I am providing you I am making an equally generous offer to you." Wait a minute! What's generous about the fact that you're giving me what I paid for?
Strike Two: all he did was defend his actions and lay out why I should be grateful that I'm getting what I paid for.
It doesn't take much to say: "I understand your concern." That would have defused the whole matter for me. Instead it was misunderstanding and defensiveness all along the line. At the start I wasn't angry about this, more curious about why this was happening. By the time it was all over, I was steaming!
Is this a way to endear your clients to you?
What galled me most about the situation was the total lack of understanding of my concern.
Connecting with and empathizing with your clients is the first step in developing long-lasting, respectful relationships.
How do YOU deal with sticky situations that can backfire if not handled with understanding?
This is not the first time I've experienced lousy customer service from a well-known name. Makes me wonder if it isn't really all about the money and once they have your $$$'s what comes after doesn't matter.
End of rant.