Are You Looking to Upset Your Customer?


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I’m easy to please, at least I think so; and I’m not high-maintenance. I don’t have unreasonable requests, and I understand things don’t always go as planned. I’m flexible and adaptable. I wish more people were like that too (boy, I’ve dealt with some crazies over the years…). As a related thought, read about my pet peeves.Are You Looking to Upset Your Customer

But, in the business world there are certain minimums that a customer can expect, right?

If you sell me a product there should be instructions on how to use it properly. Here’s how one company got it wrong…

I recently switched my cable TV provider and now save almost $50 per month for the same services (doesn’t it tick you off that the price keeps going up – but that’s another story). After the installer left, I sat down to enjoy my new service, knowing that the channel numbers, of course, would be different than I had before.

I searched for the channel list paperwork – it was nowhere to be found. I felt helpless, unable to navigate the extensive array of channels or find my favorite show, the Big Bang Theory! What was I to do?

“Honey, did you take the TV channel paperwork”, I bellowed. My wife said no.

That’s strange…no channel paperwork. I guess the installer forgot to leave it. Ok, just a minor setback (remember, I’m adaptable). This should be easy to fix. But I had a nagging feeling it wouldn’t be.

I called up the cable’s customer service hotline and was told,

“We no longer provide a printed channel listing. Just hit the “guide button” on your remote and you’ll see all the channels included in your package. Plus, there’s a series of videos you can watch to help you get the most out of your new service”.


No channel line-up and I need to watch videos to learn how to use my system?

This is not how service should be. Are you looking to upset your customer?

We in the service industry always recommend that the best way to enrich the overall experience is to make it easy for the customer to do business with you. But it doesn’t stop after the sale is made.

To make it easy, and to provide the minimum a customer would expect (besides the product working well and as advertised), we need:

  • Clear directions or instructions to be included with the product
  • An easy-to-understand return policy
  • A service and support system that doesn’t make the customer jump through hoops to speak with a live person
  • A common-sense warranty with no hidden exemptions.

Am I right? Do you agree?

Here’s another situation that DOES come with instructions – but still can be improved.

Go out and purchase any smaller-sized bottle of aspirin or other pain medication. It’s so great that the manufacturer is kind enough to include extensive instructions right on the bottle. But it’s written so small that I’d need a microscope to read it.

This happened to me recently and I got so ticked-off. I guess I started to yell a few colorful words when my teenage daughter came up to me and said, “Dad, what are you complaining about?”

Still seething from my inability to read the unreadable writing, I said, “I can’t read the damn words, they’re too small”. “Here, let me read it”, my smart-alecky kid said.

Then, to my surprise, she read me the directions and dosing instructions so easily, you’d expect she already had them memorized and was just going through the motions to make fun of me. “You’re getting old”, she said as she walked away.

She may be right, but it’s the principle of it. “They need to include a separate package insert or something. Not everyone is 19 years old with perfect eyes you know”, I shot back at her…

If we wish to expand our customer base beyond a certain demographic, we shouldn’t expect that each has the same abilities or expectations.

One size doesn’t fit all, nor can everyone see the small type on the side of a bottle. And, if a channel listing doesn’t come with the cable box, there’s nothing to read in the first place!

Photo courtesy of

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


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