People tend to agree that first impressions are important. Sure, a bad first impression can be overcome (and may I personally thank the Universe for that fact), but to do that takes a lot of hard work, and it has to be done with consistency.
On the other hand, if you get the first impression right, you can generally enjoy an easier ride on subsequent occasions.
Which brings me to my advice to service providers. The nature of the service being provided isn’t relevant to this note. But I’m going to illustrate it with a specific example of a bad first impression created by one of the most notorious of service industries: parcel couriers.
On the left you see a parcel. Abandoned by my front door, where it has sat, forlornly waiting, for a UPS truck to come and take it to Borehamwood. The parcel is very dear to me, containing as it does, two digital SLR bodies and a lens. Because of the sheer volume of Canon camera equipment in my house, I’m a member of Canon Professional Services, and so I can get priority service. It’s even got its lurid green sticker on it, so that the boys & girls of CPS can fast-track it.
But it’s not in Borehamwood. It’s still in Edinburgh, in my house.
I have, over the years, used many courier companies. You’ll remember that the only wrinkle in an otherwise superb B&W repair operation was caused by DHL. TNT have been the bane of my professional life – although we’ll forgive them the time I spent four days drinking heavily in Ireland because their “overnight” service had failed to deliver a network switch to me.
So I thought I’d give UPS a try. Rates were reasonable, and aside from my credit card companies suspecting them of fraud, the booking process was smooth. But that was yesterday, and this is today, and in spite of having waited in all day, my parcel is still here.
UPS has failed me.
UPS is clearly consistent of incompetent staff and/or unfit business systems.
UPS: See the first impression you’ve created?
When we had the phone line installed in our house, the BT engineer didn’t turn up. Same thing: I waited in all day, and no sign nor word from the engineer. It wasn’t like it was important to get a phone line. Only the television, telephone and internet service depended upon it.
The first time I used home emergency services broker HomeServe, the same thing happened. The engineer just didn’t show up.
All of these organisations have created an irreparable impression of incompetence and disinterest. I only continue to do business with BT, because once you get over the installation hurdle, the service is very good.
Providing a model of how it should be done is the personal transportation service Scoot. They take care setting up the first job, and the driver they send is highly competent. Scoot’s first impression is an excellent one, which is important, since you’re about to hand them the keys to your car. Their model is the one to which companies should aspire.
Treat the customer well the first time, and they’ll forgive you wrinkles in future. You’ve set the benchmark, proven yourself. You’ve demonstrated that you can get the service right, which then means that a future mishap is likely to be forgiven. As I sit here writing now, I wonder what UPS are going to do with my parcel. When are they going to pick it up? They haven’t told me, and even if they did, I’m not sure I’d believe them.
They’re going to struggle to recover from this one.
Thanks to MoneyBlogNewz for the UPS logo