Provide a great customer service experience and you have the opportunity to win a new customer.  Simple stuff right  – but how come so many businesses got it wrong in 2008?.

2008 seemed to be the year of the bad customer service experience for me.  From Banks, to Telcos and hardware stores, all the big guys seemed to have me on some blacklist and wanted to test their latest ‘how to lose a customer’ tactics on me.  I timed how long I spent on hold with different companies throughout the year and came up with the following stats:

Optus – (Telco) Get a home / office phone and internet line connected and then fixed once it was connected but not working -11 calls, 19 operators – 191 mins on the phone

Telstra – (Telco) Fix a billing issue that they created – 8 calls – 84 mins on the phone

Medibank Private (health insurance) -Find out if I could claim any more osteo on my extra account -3 call – 59 mins on the phone

Nokia – (Manufacturer / retailer)  find out when my nokia mobile phone was coming back from repair – 4 calls – 46 mins on the phone – All of it on hold – I never actually spoke to anyone.

So optus – Congratulations guys, you win this year.  Consider my time spent typing this blog post as your award.  Sorry Nokia, Telstra and Medibank, there is always next year to steal more of my time, frustate me and waste my time trying to fix problems with products that you marketed to me, convincined me to buy and then failed to deliver a great experience with.

But wait – what about rewarding great service and reccomending the best experiences of the year.  Well this is what prompted me to write this post (and avoid doing what I should have been doing).

I just walked into a coffee shop in Kingston in Canberra, it’s called Idelic Cafe.  Second time in 2 years I have been into this cafe so I am hardly a regular.  I walked up to the counter and asked what they were better at making – Smoothies or Fresh Squeezed Juices – ‘What’s your speciality’ is what I was aksing.  3 staff told me what they thought was best and then Andrew behind the coffee machine said he could make me an Espresso Banna Smoothie.  It wasn’t on the menu, I have never had one and I didn’t even know how much it cost. Just because they reccomended it and promised me it would be good, I said yes.

I believed them, I bought it, I drank it, I loved it and in within 30 secs of drinking it I had told one other person on the phone (I got my mobile back thanks Nokia) about this great smoothie, at this great cafe and reccomended we should come here.

They didn’t confuse me, put me on hold, over charge me and most importantly they didn’t waste my time.    I paid them for the smoothie and rewarded them with a referral.

In 2009 optus, please be more like Andrew and Idelic cafe.  You might think that your product is a bit different from a local coffee shop, but your customer service doesn’t need to be. In 2009, please Optus, make customer service your speciality.