A view from Dave Trott: Customer disservice
A view from Dave Trott

Customer disservice

The best sniper rifle in the world is the Barrett M107. It's a .50-calibre semi-automatic and fires a bullet twice the size and power of a normal round, accurate to well over a mile.

So the world’s elite forces use the Barrett M107.

In Afghanistan, a unit of US Marines got into a firefight.

Normally this wouldn’t be a problem – they were equipped with a Barrett rifle.

But the Barrett kept jamming, the one thing you don’t want a gun to do in a firefight.

This was now a life-or-death situation.

So a young marine did the one thing only an American would think to do.

Something that wouldn’t even occur to a soldier of any other nationality in combat.

As the marine was in a firefight, he was too far from base to call for the armourer and he didn’t have any tools with him.

So he called Barrett Firearms Manufacturing in Tennessee, USA.

When the receptionist answered, he asked to be put through to customer service.

Don Cook was the person who took the call.

He asked what the problem was – he could hear the sound of a firefight in the background.

The young marine explained that his gun was jamming.

He wondered if customer service could help.

Cook identified the problem – the lower receiver was bent.

He was able to suggest what we would call a hack.

He told the young marine to remove the bolt carrier and use the bottom part of it to bend the lower receiver back into position.

Then the young marine reassembled the Barrett and fired a few rounds.

When they were both satisfied it was working properly, the marine thanked him and hung up to continue the firefight.

The whole process had taken less than a minute.

Now THAT is what you call customer service.

In combat, where it literally means the difference between life and death.

Only an American would think to call customer service in that situation because only in America do they have that level of customer service.

In the UK, the marine would have been put on hold because "all our lines are busy" while he had to listen to bad music and repeated recorded messages.

But Americans don’t do that because they know customer service is good business.

In a survey, American Express found that 46% of customers were willing to pay 14% more for better customer service.

Zendesk found that 40% of customers switch to another company because of a better customer-service reputation.

They found that 82% of customers who had switched had done so because of a bad customer-service experience.

They found that 55% of recommendations are made on customer service, not product or price.

Register that: doing your job well is more important than product or price.

That’s a good lesson for everyone in advertising.

Because these days all anyone cares about is money.

Make as much money as we can for doing as little work as we can.

Automate everything because it’s cheaper and faster.

Crank out as much as we can, as fast as we can, and charge as much as we can.

Anything to make more money.

And that may work in the short term.

Until a customer actually needs someone who can do a decent job.

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three.