Your customers can be a powerful voice for you in the market. But at the same time that same energy can be turned against you if you don’t deliver.

I've recently moved back to London from New York. I'm also in the tech industry. So i think i have some pretty decent reference points for good customer service. In New York i was very used to lots of options to have food delivered to my door quickly and efficiently. So on moving back to London I signed up to Deliveroo which seemed to be the best option and gave it a try. I had the most horrible experience. 

I ordered my food and then went upstairs to read a bedtime story to my son. My wife was downstairs listening out for the door. When i got back downstairs our food still hadn’t arrived. I checked the Deliveroo app and it said the food had been delivered. That seemed weird. I then checked my phone and saw I had a missed call. I called Deliveroo and after a long wait they told me the driver had tried to call me, waited for ten minutes and then left. I explained that the standard way of letting someone know that you are at their door is to ring the doorbell. They said as per their T's and C's that they were only obliged to call me and did not have to ring the doorbell. They made no attempt to offer to re-deliver my food or to resolve the situation in any way. They simply went ahead and charged my card.

I was staggered by this treatment. There is no mention on the app to keep your phone on you because they may not ring the doorbell.There has been no attempt to make me feel any better about my experience. I honestly felt like I had been robbed.

But I don't want to dwell on this specific experience. It just made me realize the importance of customers who love your company and who will act as your brand ambassadors out in the market. This can be so powerful. It is human instinct to share the things we love with others. Can you think of the number of times you have re-watched a film just because you want to share the experience with someone else that you're close to?

The trouble is that this instinct can also work in reverse. And the results can be just as powerful. It would have been easy for Deliveroo to have apologized, to have given me a refund and generally made me feel better. But instead they have given me nothing. I am not the kind of person that usually writes about bad customer experiences. I’m not sure I ever have before. But in this case I am seriously pissed off. I am now a major detractor for the company. I'm telling anyone I can about my experience. I’m waiting and watching for any good alternative to emerge in the market. I don't plan on ever using Deliveroo again. But it didn't need to be this way.

Unsurprisingly to me, Deliveroo has a very low review score of 4.3/10 on Trustpilot. It seems that I am not alone in my experience and they have many more detractors than promoters. It all feels like a short term and mercenary strategy to me. The market will become more and more competitive. Detractors will detract. It makes you wonder about their long term sustainability. 

A customer can be your most valuable asset out in the market. An issue is actually an opportunity to show the customer how much you care and to get them back on side. Customers don't mind issues as long as they don't happen too often and as long as you resolve them well. It can actually be an opportunity to build a closer and more meaningful relationship.

My conclusion is to do whatever you can to make your customers love your product and love your company. Think about the costs of this as being part of your marketing and brand budget. Whatever the costs they will be  be returned multiple times over in the long run. This is especially true in the world of the Internet and social media where there is far greater transparency and customers are more empowered than ever before. It's the best and perhaps the only way to be successful over the long term.