‘It was the worst service I’ve ever had in my life.’ Let’s face it. We’ve all experienced good and bad customer service. The latter is bad. Bad for you, bad for the company, bad for everyone. Except of course the nearby competitor.

The old adage was when you experienced poor service, you told ten people as opposed to just three when it was good. Fast forward a few years. A Facebook update ‘I’ve got my new iPhone, it’s amazing!’ or ‘I’ve got my new iPhone, it’s crap as it never gets a signal!’ spreads like cyber-wildfire on ecstasy. Your opinion infects and influences within seconds.

And that’s the thing I just don’t get. It’s not like brands are completely oblivious to such consumer behaviour, yet so many consistently deliver shoddy service. Every time you interact with a brand, online, to its Indian call centre or instore, these are all touch points. If they’re not all consistent, there’s a problem. H&M may have an all singing website, high-profile celebrity-endorsed campaign and great product lines, but it doesn’t click if the snooty sales assistant doesn’t have basic manners to even smile and say hello. What a waste.

This issue should sit with marketing. As many sit sipping their Chai Lattes in their ivory towers planning vast integrated awareness-building initiatives, none seem to see the value of making sure the customer service team is in the know and is feeding back customer comments. Is it really that important? Well, each customer could be a loyal returning cash-generator that is happy to tell the world how amazing you are. Conversely, each can turn into a one-time-only customer that is more than delighted to tell six billion folks that your brand is rubbish. A loss of one sale and how many more?

So who delivers good customer service? As I mentioned this blog to the Mrs, her little brown face lit up like Christmas morning. ‘John Lewis…John Lewis!’ she cried. Ever since they managed our wedding list, the wife may as well be wearing a John Lewis uniform and cruising in a pimped up dark green John Lewis wagon. As always, she’s right of course. Their service is tremendous. In store, on the phone, online, even the delivery guys – equally and consistently brilliant.

One of the most bizarre customer experiences I’ve ever witnessed was recently in a Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) restaurant. As I waited at the till, the guy next to me placed his order. ‘We’ll take the marinated tomatoes,’ he said. But was abruptly halted by the shiny cap-wearing employee. ‘You don’t want those sir. You get like three and they aren’t very nice. Don’t waste your money,’ was the response. Farcical. The guy ordering didn’t know what to do or say. I wondered. Is that good or bad service? Surely it is good in that she was looking out for the customer? OK, not exactly a brand ambassador for GBK but in a weird way, I had a new found respect for the odd burger place. Until I attempted to eat one of it’s mammoth burgers.

The PR brigade always say that the media can make or break an organisation’s reputation. And rightly so. But I’d argue word of mouth communication off the back of customer service experience is even more powerful these days. Firms in any sector should understand this and respect it. At the very least, ask your customers what they think of you. How else will you know and improve?

So if you hate this blog, why not link it to worstblogsever.com – on the other hand, if you’ve enjoyed it, give it a like on Facebook or maybe buy me some John Lewis vouchers. Either way, don’t order me the marinated tomatoes from GBK.