The Great Golf Ball Debacle

I would bet my life that most people reading this have experienced poor customer service of late.

I find myself in the all too common position recently of being on the receiving end of some spectacularly bad customer service from a well known magazine subscription provider.

They have happily taken my annual subscription for four years now so when the renewal came round this January I thought I would stick my neck out and ask if they would throw in the snazzy and expensive golf club which was being offered to “new” subscribers only as a free gift.

To be honest I expected a flat out no, but when they came back with a yes of course Mrs Armstrong I was delighted. Victory for the little man (or woman in this case), you don’t ask you don’t get and all that.

18 emails, 12 weeks and a strongly worded letter later do I have said free gift? That would be a no. Ben, or Becky or was it Matt or Verity, I’ve lost track now, have all provided their sincerest apologies and they do understand why I would be very frustrated with this outcome. Do they really, seriously, are they kidding?

They have assured me they want to retain my custom so whilst they can no longer provide the free golf club now it’s out Angry Golf Ballof stock they would like to know if I would settle for 12 SRIXON AD333 golf balls. At the end of my tether I said yes, it suddenly didn’t feel like such a victory, I think I might have even gained the odd grey hair through the whole dire process.

So the golf balls have arrived, they are indeed the SRIXON AD333s, just one small problem, I may pay for the renewal but the magazine goes to my father, he plays, I don’t and yes you’ve guess it, they sent the blooming balls to me!!

I don’t feel remotely rewarded for my loyalty and most certainly will not be renewing the subscription next year. I don’t appreciate being asked to “settle” for a back up gift because someone forgot to do their job properly and process the correct free gift in the first place as promised.

Nothing grates more on a customer than promises not delivered, loyalty being taken for granted and fake sincerity from a faceless person who you know could not care less about your predicament.

It’s not hard to reward loyalty, to provide a good service, to make the consumer feel good about the decisions they have made to buy into your brand, product or service.

We continually strive to improve the customer experience at OAM – and in order to do so actively encourage feedback on our services.

Personally nothing gives me greater pleasure than developing client relationships built on confidence and trust. Over the years I’ve learned that customer loyalty is of great value and not to be taken for granted.

Recent press covered the immediate response by the high street pharmacy Boots in relation to their error of judgement in introducing gender signage for children’s toys. Their customers took to Twitter and Facebook to make heard their views on this seemingly sexist stereotyping –

Boots listened to their customers, heard what they had to say and took action, immediately removing the in store signage which had been considered offensive.

How refreshing that a market leader listened to what their customers had to say and their decisive action to rectify the situation will no doubt have resulted in continued customer loyalty.

Happy customers are good ambassadors and all of us in business would do well to remember this.

Dr Claire Armstrong


Know your customer

Rewarding your customer for long and valued custom must make sense.

An acknowledgement that you have appreciated them sticking with you and by way of thanks, a gift or reward that is appropriate and makes the customer feel good about dealing with your business would be a good thing to do.

I will, however, briefly tell a short story to demonstrate that while the principle might be strong, if the delivery is wrong it will seem like big business going through the motions.

My client, a vibrant, cheerful and energetic 84 year old widow told me today that her 59 years gold cardmembership with a certain motoring organisation had been rewarded recently by the offer of a Gold Membership.

She was naturally delighted and was soon checking through the many new benefits she was entitled to as a result of her loyalty…

She could now drive abroad and it would be covered. She could nominate a 17 year old relative to drive her car. And so on.

And the good news was that her renewal premium this year would only be £198.

It was £178 last year but look at all the benefits you can enjoy.

She may be 84 but daft she isn’t and could spot the flaws in her prestigious Gold Membership reward.

In fairness, one short, sharp phone call later, she was still a Gold Member but for £100 – I still think after all this time they could have called time on the fee – but a gesture never the less I suppose.

Rewarding clients is the right and proper thing to do, but best to check its something relevant and will be appreciated by them.

Roland Oliver


Mail Madness! Simple customer service that’s easy to forget

I can’t remember the exact date that I got my very first e-mail, envelopebut since that fateful moment I’ve been under its spell.

I will not be alone in thinking that e-mail has controlled me and been the thief of time over the last 15+ years or so.

I also have tried on many occasions to change my relationship with the electronic menace and to better disciplined (like my colleagues!) and have better “systems” for dealing with my inbox.

Whether its just a symptom of my personality or just plain stupidity, nothing has really worked until now…

I have now discovered a fantastic system that sorts out my emails into the really important ones and the ones that can be read later and puts them into my inbox or not.

It does a whole lot more besides and I’m not doing it justice here but that is only a small part of the point I wanted to make.

The reason I so happy with my new email system is not just that it works and does what I need it to do, but it was the experience from a customer perspective that rang my bell most.

The trialing and buying of the system was all done remotely and was just fine, but there is always that slight feeling of “what have I done” after handing over money when I’d had no contact with anyone at the company.

One personal email thanking me for purchasing from the system’s owner and creator (correctly allowed into my inbox!), and I felt vindicated, valued and happy.

I did actually email him back to say how I felt and the real point is saying thanks to your clients and customers is key to ensuring that they or their business don’t feel taken for granted.

It’s such a simple thing to do that we simply don’t do enough.

Thanks to Stuart for reminding me to thank my customers better and more often.

Back to my emails I think…

Roland Oliver

PS – please get in touch if you want to know more about the system.