As the founder of a pro-consumer tech startup, the right thing to say is customer is king.
The right thing to say is that we are “customer obsessed.”
The right thing to say is that “The customer is always right.”
Just that – the customer isn’t always right.
The customer is always optimising for their gains. And that can lead them to be petty, to be dishonest, to be unreasonable.
At nearbuy, we make a lot of mistakes. And the nature of our business, where the delivery of the service is not in our control but in the merchant’s control, make these mistakes more vivid.
Every day, we work really really hard to fix these problems. Through tech, through working with the merchants, through processes. We are able to resolve most customer concerns. Some of them happen instantly. Some take time. However, at no point are these shoved under the “I don’t care about this” carpet.
Sadly (and perhaps understandably) some customers don’t care about any of this.
Yesterday, I had a rather disturbing conversation with a customer. A senior employee at a large MNC. Regular buyer. He found our customer service “disgraceful” because we refused to give him a 25-30% additional discount on his bulk purchase. He has uninstalled the nearbuy app and vowed to encourage others to do so as well.
“I am really sorry to lose you as a customer,” is all that I could say.
Another customer claimed that our Buy1, Get1 offer on Sunday brunch was misleading because it was sold for INR 19. She felt that for INR 19 she would get 2 brunches, while the offer was about buying 1 brunch at full price and getting the other one for only INR 19.
We should have absolutely done a better job of the words we chose to describe the offer. But to imagine that you would get 2 brunches worth INR 1200 each, by paying 19 bucks? And then to call the customer service manipulative, when we tried to explain the situation?
Guess what – had the customer raised the issue to make us aware and not raise an alarm, we would have most certainly made the purchase for her, on our expense. Because we like people who genuinely wish to help us get better.
And then I see this on Quora
The response is one thing. The 16k upvotes is what’s most disturbing. There is a section of society that endorses this dishonesty. That calls it smart. That calls it “fuck you, business. I only care about my money and not about you.”
I imagine, it’s these same set of customers who have (tragically) seen themselves or their friends and family go through layoffs and shutdowns because of the recent conditions in the market. The customer today is more powerful than ever before.
You can voice your opinion and make organisations respond to your needs. You can bring companies down.
You can make them win.
And that makes the role of the customer a very responsible one. We need your money. And promise to work really hard to give you value in return. But more than ever before, we need you to be fair.
To demand what you ought to, not what you want to.
Please don’t make us fake customer service.
[This post by Ankur Warikoo first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission.]