Big Company U

Apparently the primary coursework in customer relations at Big Company University is a double major in Doublespeak and Condescension. With an elective in Cover Your Ass.

From a story on

Kate bought two desktops from Dell and also asked for “something to link them.” Dell supplied the computers… and a server.

After speaking to a more tech savvy friend, she learned all she really needed was a cable. Her company has only two employees. When she asked Dell for a refund, they refused. Last week, a Dell “EMEA customer relations executive” sent her this email:

“We have followed up internally by checking our records, and have discussed this matter with the sales person concerned.”

“It is our understanding that the sales conversation was clear, and full and included a discussion about providing a solution that would allow for system growth in future. The solution proposed therefore seems to have been a reasonable one, and the purchase seemed to be an informed one, so we see no reason to cancel the order.

“We regret that your experience seems not to have been positive, and we respect your right to pursue this matter further.

Our position remains as stated above.”

Sounds suspiciously identical to the letter I received from Delta, doesn’t it?

"Mr. Landman, we can certainly appreciate your feelings and regret your disappointment.  Since you completed your trip and the fare you paid is correct, we must respectfully decline your request for a refund.

Again, thank you for writing.  We recognize this was not the response you expected to receive and trust you will understand our position.  We value your business and hope you will continue to choose Delta."

Now, I’m not really griping that neither company has no point; that they should offer full refunds to everyone who asks (except me of course). But what pisses everybody off is the fact that both of these letters sound like they were written by sniveling, inhuman weasels. Neither sounds like they have an ounce of empathy for the plight, misunderstanding or feelings of their customer.

I’m sure Dell thinks Kate is wrong, that she seemed to want a server. And they might be right. But I’ll bet Kate wouldn’t be so chapped if they had sent her an empathetic response that made it sound like someone had actually listened to her first, then explained the issue from Dell’s side, then denied her a refund. But that’s now how they roll at Big Company U.

"We respect your right to pursue this matter further. Our position remains as stated above.”

What the hell is that? Who says that? Does anyone think that Kate will ever buy anything from Dell again? That she won’t tell everyone she knows about the experience? That everyone she tells won’t think twice about buying from Dell going forward?

Me? I’m screwed. I live in Atlanta and Delta owns me. But Kate can easily take her business elsewhere. And she will.

The lesson? Every chance you get to communicate with a customer is golden – whether they are happy or upset. Every communication is a chance to further the relationship, so every communication needs to be human. People have choices. And when all things are equal, they will choose to do business with people that sound like they care.

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