Wait! That’s not in the Customer Service playbook…

Another day, another angry customer… Many of you have probably seen this video, but if you haven’t, I’ve posted it below for your viewing pleasure.  This gentleman, upset that he was denied a refund from T-Mobile, decided that he would “redecorate” this T-Mobile store without asking for permission.  Still, he probably needed to brush up on his interior design skills because he simply removed a lot of the wall art and painted the floors white using a couple fire extinguishers.

Before I go any further, let me say that I do not condone his behavior.  After all, there are more civilized ways to work out problems with businesses.  I’ve found that in a lot of cases, issues can be resolved by making your way up the corporate chain.  I should also add that I do not know the full details of this story, especially in terms of who was being more “unreasonable”. Was it T-Mobile or the customer?
I’m not singling out T-Mobile, either. I’ve been through three different cell phone providers (four if you count the whole Cingular/AT&T merger) and ALL of them have done at least one thing that almost made me a YouTube sensation just like this man.  Even other types of businesses have pushed my buttons in the past in a way that made me dream of doing something like this just to get even.  Yet, in almost all of those cases including this one, these situations probably could have been avoided. 
I think the core issue comes down to businesses focusing on the wrong thing:
Yes, money is to businesses as to what blood is to humans.  If you’re injured and a doctor tells you that you’ve lost a lot of blood, that is obviously a cause for concern.  Without blood, we don’t survive, and without money, businesses don’t survive, either.
Does that mean that we should constantly be thinking of how much blood we have in our bodies, whether we are injured or not?  With that being said, why is it that a lot of businesses prioritize their policies around profits, even during profitable times? 
Ken has said time and again that money is a byproduct of doing business and should not be the primary focus.  Taking care of your employees should be the goal, in which case, your employees will take care of the customers which results in the money stream.  Taking care of your employees also includes making sure that the employees know that customers are the focus above all.
The same can be said of politics here in the US. For most elected officials, the goal isn’t to serve their constituents, but rather to get re-elected.  In order to do that, those elected officials need money to finance their campaigns.  The focus becomes making deals to acquire funds, rather than serve those who elected those officials to office.
When money is the primary focus, it typically leads to policies which can create unhappy customers just as we see in this video.  By denying this man his refund (or at least by not finding a compromise), the man caused hundreds of dollars in damages to the store.  Yes, T-Mobile could sue him for the cost of those damages, but that’s still going to cost T-Mobile additional time and resources.  Also, think of the bad publicity surrounding this video.  Someone who may have been considering T-Mobile as their new cell phone provider may now have second thoughts after seeing the video.  Again, these are funds lost due to policies put in place.
Without blood, we don’t survive, and without customers, businesses don’t survive, either…
Leave your comments!

5 thoughts on “Wait! That’s not in the Customer Service playbook…

  1. While I agree with many of your points, the video was a bad example to use. This many was angry about a system wide outage that no one in that T-Mobile store could do anything about. They couldn’t get his service back on, couldn’t refund money, They couldn’t do anything to stem his anger.
    The video was just one disturbed individual.
    From a marketing standpoint I understand your use of the video. Leverage an already viral video to pump up views of your page.

  2. Once again the adage: for a manager, the client comes 2nd! When employees come first, their only concern is the client. Great leadership practice.

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