Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 26 seconds
I just had two customer experience adventures and, being a very observant person, I thought I should quantify them. Although both were OK, one was considerably better. The stakes are higher than you might imagine once something goes wrong. At Levco, we get it!
Every bad experience is an opportunity. Let me repeat myself: every bad experience is an opportunity. At Flying Pie, we said that “There is no better way to learn from your mistakes than by paying for them.” We held ourselves to this rule and our vendors, many times.
In my mind, every interaction is neutral or zero until something happens. Then you get the chance to “knock it out of the park,”.. as Larry (the Manager of 16th and State Albertson’s) used to say. You have a chance to make “a CFL (customer for life)
We now interact with machines and computers and our vehicles, you name it. When something other than a normal transaction occurs, a high stakes roulette wheel starts to spin whether you realize it or not.
The first story involves tires. I bought 4 new truck tires at Commercial Tire in Meridian. First off, it was a lot of money, so I was paying close attention. The store said I got a free alignment check with the purchase, which established my ability to have the new tires warranted. Made sense. I fully expected that they would naturally find that the vehicle was out of alignment (although it didn’t seem off) and that I would have to pay more to have that done. Sure enough, it was out, and I authorized the additional work. They did fix a rubbing sound by grinding a mud flap, which was a bonus.
Upon picking up the vehicle later that day, I drove off only to find that I had to keep constant pressure on the wheel turning to the left to maintain a straight line. Upon lifting my hand from the wheel, the vehicle would start to arc to the right. Pissed off, I called the shop and explained what was up. Without an apology, the nice lady told me to bring it back and they would gladly repair it. “Fine,” I thought, ” that was an unfortunate waste of time. Did they have the new guy do the work? was their machine out of whack?”
It took a week but I got it back over there and explained the situation. No apology, (Missed opportunity again.) I left my vehicle and got a lift to work. Upon picking up the vehicle, I had to explain why I was there again and told the guy who was holding my key hostage that there was surely no charge, After checking to verify my story, he handed me my key back, completing the transaction, pointing to where my car was. (Missed opportunity Number 3.) The car works fine now. I was left with a blah feeling; I wasted my time as a result of their screw up, and Commercial Tire surely did not knock my socks off, or learn anything from this series of events.
If zero is a neutral interaction, this was a -5. We had a problem, and they missed all sorts of opportunities to impress me. I left with a low opinion of them. Although they fixed the problem they caused, I am angry that it happened, and I wish they had come up with something clever like, “I’m really sorry Joe, we don’t feel right charging you for this,” or some other spontaneous creative idea) Am I a loyal customer now? NOPE. Are there other tire stores out there? YUP. Will I ask around next time I need tires? YUP, Will I tell the story if prompted? Yes, I will.
Later that same day, I dropped into a coffee shop in Eagle called Rembrandts, which was created out of an old church. I had gotten a cup off coffee in a hurry perhaps 8 weeks ago, and when I was on the road noticed that it was only warm. That being a pet peeve of mine, I immediately called the store to complain and to warn them that the pot they had just made was not going to please anyone else. The nice lady apologized and invited me to return right away. That was not possible for my schedule, so she said to let them know when I returned and they would replace it.
I had hung on to that offer for a few months. Returning, I stepped up (during a rush) and ordered a cup of coffee. I then said, ” This is a little embarrassing,” as I pulled out my wallet, “I’ll have that muffin too.” I explained my story and the server said, “Put your money away, your breakfast is on us today.” ” No, I insisted, to which she gave me that look. “Put it away. Thanks you for coming back and letting us know.”
If zero is a neutral interaction, Just the act of replacing the coffee would have been a zero. But no, she gave me a muffin and apologized and, in essence, gets it. We are on the same team. I am now crowing about a +10 interaction. She cares about her reputation and my experience. Are there other coffee shops in Eagle, Idaho? YUP. Am I going to go to any of them? NOPE. I will tell the story spontaneously!
Help me teach businesses how to do this right! Don’t just keep quiet, especially if you like the business. Take heed of how important handling problems is. Pay attention to how you are treated, and try some of these techniques yourself. If you are a business owner or manager, see if you are capable of putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Occasionally, it is painful to pay for your mistakes. Use it as a learning and teaching opportunity, Trust me, the value of a well handled problem resolution far exceeds the cost.
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This story is really interesting. It also is very true.
I just call um like I see um.
Renbrandts Coffee House Mission and Vision (copied and pasted from their website)
“To be a neighborhood coffee house that cultivates an environment of community, belonging and hospitality and promotes justice locally and globally.
Creating good: We are deeply committed to creating good by using capitalism to challenge business leaders, motivate consumers, inspire others, and ultimately use our resources to promote positive social change for our fellow human beings.
Quality: We are dedicated to providing the highest quality food and standards possible.
Customer focus: We are committed to providing an atmosphere of hospitality in which the needs of our guests are met and consistently exceeded. We endeavor to serve our guests, as we would want to be served.
Local community: We recognize that we have a profound responsibility to the community in which we live, work and play. We are committed to making a positive contribution to our neighborhoods by supporting local community building programs and volunteerism among our team members.
Global community and environmental responsibility: In our continuing effort to be socially and environmentally responsible, we are committed to purchasing only “Sustainable Coffee” from around the world. Through our commitment to “sustainability”, farmers receive a fair price for their product, safe working conditions, adequate housing, sustainable farming practices, ongoing education for children and other socially responsible programs for coffee-growing communities.
Respect for our people: We recognize that our team members are the foundation of our success; we value and celebrate diversity as a source of strength. We strive to provide a supportive work environment that promotes teamwork, respect and dignity for one another.
It is no accident that great customer service exists in business, The Owner generally sets the culture in most cases. Sadly there is often a huge abyss between having a code of conduct and reality of what happens on the front lines of customer interaction. I choose to celebrate great results. Congratulations, Job well done.