John DeJulius’ good news about College Works   Leave a comment

Brand Evangelists or
Brand Terrorists
“Your customers can be one or the other.”
~by John DiJulius

College Works Painting, headquartered in Southern California, paints 10,000 homes a year, employs 250 full-time employees and around 3,000 seasonal employees. They have always prided themselves on being at the top of their industry for customer service, but that wasn’t good enough. In certain situations, being the best at customer service in just your industry can still mean you are unacceptable.

“In the past we would fight against certain complaints, we would side with our side, and we would look at our complaints for validity. With 10,000 customers a year, some were legitimately taking advantage. In the distant past we looked at a slight percentage of complaints as acceptable from our employees, who are paid purely on incentive, who work very hard to start a business while in school, and who earn based on their business’ return,” says Matthew Stewart, CEO of College Works Painting. “However, one thing changed our entire approach to customer service.”

The CWP world changed. One unhappy, disgruntled customer created a blog where he complained aggressively about the job that was done for him. This customer did not pay, was unreasonable in his demands, lost hands down in court and was ordered to pay. In retaliation he created a blog that dominated the search engines for four years. As a result of this brand terrorism and brand assassination, CWP’s brand was taken hostage by a customer who was an expert in dominating online search engines, which is becoming increasingly easier for the average consumer to master. CWP estimates that it lost over $20 million in revenue and countless employee candidates. Remember that before all of this, CWP was considered better than most in their industry at customer service. Painfully, they found out, that wasn’t enough.

“After committing to truly becoming a world-class customer service organization, we changed our entire culture and attitude toward every customer we contact,” Stewart says. “We don’t care who is right or wrong, we look at ourselves through the eyes of any customer, and we fight for 100% satisfaction. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars refunding money, paying wages unearned, and making people feel well. We say ‘sorry’ more, we say ‘yes’ more, and we move very fast and very transparently. Our employees love the focus, and the blogs are deflated. Our philosophy is “Yes is always the answer, now what is the question?” This is a way of life for us, and for me personally.”

Action Plan
Is your business prepared to immediately defuse customer complaints? Does everyone realize how easy it is for an unhappy customer to contact thousands of people almost instantaneously? Create systems and protocols that enable your organization to create brand evangelists versus brand terrorists.

For many articles like this one visit “The Customer Experience Blog”


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