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I recently had a horrible experience with one of the large bed companies in the country.  You see, I have a problem sleeping.  It comes from the peripheral neuropathy that’s left over from my cancer treatments. 

For some reason when I lie down my feet start to scream in pain.  Sometimes it takes an hour or two before I can fall asleep.  And then, after just a few hours of sleep my feet wake me up.

I was hoping that buying this bed would help out with these problems.  And then the problems started.  The company made mistake after mistake with the final problem coming from them not willing to moving our bed from one room to another.  And this was after I was ready to write them a check for $11,000…..which I consider a lot of money.

If you’re expensive act classy.

In the case of this company, they surely didn’t ask classy.  Literally every time I had an interaction with them I had to asked to be elevated to a supervisor.  The front line people were clueless about even basic questions.  I had three interactions that caused me to ask whether this was a company I wanted to do business with and this was before our bed was supposed to be delivered.

When the delivery people came with the bed it appeared they were outsourced contractors.  The contractors were driving a beat up truck from 250 miles away.  They had no interest in finding a way to make their delivery seamless.  In fact, they did the opposite.  The result….I decided to not accept the bed and the company lost a large sale.

Sometimes you have to bend over backwards to please your customers.

The reason I decided to not accept the bed wasn’t the cost, it wasn’t even the bad phone support, it was how they delivered the bed.  I thought to myself, “If this is the way they deliver, what’s going to happen if and when something goes wrong with the bed?”

I just thought the risk of getting service if things didn’t work out well was too high.  I needed to protect myself.  The problem here was the basic expectations of what I wanted from this company wasn’t being met….not even at a very basic level.

You should really find out what your customers expect.

This company didn’t even have a little interest in what my expectations were.  And that’s their prerogative.  They just won’t be doing business with me.

Make sure you know what your customers expect.  The best way to find out this very basic information is to ask.  Make a part of every customer interaction you have one where you find out if you’re exceeding your customers’ expectations.  If possible, put together a customer advisory board to help you with understanding what your customers expect then make sure you provide it to them.

Be honest on whether you can fulfill their expectations.

In the case of this bed company, they had policies that would have kept them from making me a happy customer.  They had two choices, they could have said we can’t help you or change their policy.  Either one would have saved me tons of time and tension.

Instead of me writing this post about how terrible this company is I could be writing about how thrilled I was with their product and service.  It really comes down to how well you respond and take care of your customers needs.  But first, you need to know what those needs are.

Finally, make sure you know who you want to serve.

I want you to do one thing for me.  I want you to take out a piece of paper and write down who it is you want to serve.  If you don’t know that, there is no chance that you’re going to be able to provide great service.

You see, the thing here is that you can’t be all things to all people.  When you try to do this you’re going to fail….it’s almost a promise.  Please do me a favor.  Be clear about whom you want to serve, then go out and do it.

If you want, you can guess who the company is.  It shouldn’t be very hard.

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