How not to engage a customer

April 6, 2016

I ordered food from Seamless tonight. (Then I ate it. But that part’s not important to the point I’m making.) One part of the order wasn’t done right. I had requested a sushi roll inside out and they made it the regular way. I know, first world problems… Also not the point. Stay with me here.

A few hours later they sent me a text asking if the order was delivered properly. I was supposed to send a yes or no response back to them or opt out of these little surveys.

So I responded “no” because, well, that was the truth.

Guess what happened next.

Did they ask me for more detail on what was wrong with the order? No.

Did they apologize? No. Did they ask if they could contact me to learn more? No. Did they refund my money? No. Did they offer me a back rub? No.

Instead, they sent me another survey question, asking if the order was delivered on time.

Are you kidding?

Had they not bothered with the texts in the first place I would have been fine. I had forgotten about the one wrong item in my order. It was a non issue for me. But there’s an object lesson in here on how to engage customers.

The moment they sent me the second question they broke conversational norms. When you’re in a conversation and someone says something, you’re meant to respond in a way that demonstrates that you were listening and that you care about them. If instead, you just say the next thing you wanted to say anyway, then it isn’t a conversation. It’s just you broadcasting in their face.

Brands need to understand this. Deeply. The rules in business are not different than the rules in your personal life. Humans are humans. We want to be respected. We want to be cared about. We want to be heard. And you simply cannot recite your script in someone’s face. You have to actually engage them, listen to what they say and, you know, say words back to them that indicate you’re actually in the conversation with them.

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