Have you ever experienced poor treatment from a business? Once, years ago, when purchasing an gift from a big organisation for a friend, I asked for it to be sent direct to her address rather than to mine. I was severely disappointed to be told that there was a hefty additional charge to send an item to a different delivery address to the one the payment card was registered at.
It made me feel two things:
1. A sense of unjustness; the company concerned was not being financially disadvantaged by my simple request, so it was difficult to understand why a penalty was imposed.
2. That I was somehow being mean because I felt hard done by and that my friendship should be worth more than the niggle I felt at being asked to pay more money.
It's this latter point that businesses ignore at their peril.
Whilst you would have to go a long way these days, to find a company that didn't value the benefit of giving good customer service or pride themselves on their consistency to do so, it does seem that you sometimes only have to wander round the corner to get mediocre treatment which can really turn a customer off for life. Buying for someone else should make you feel good! The process of choosing something for someone else is innately wrapped up in wanting to please another and that gives us a warm glow inside. To have that challenged by a third party does nothing to enhance the customer's experience.
Yesterday, I returned a pair of fire bellows to my local, longstanding hardware store that I bought as a present for my significant other. When I got them out of the box, I was disappointed in their quality. So I took them back. The shop assistant told me he would have to get the person who sold them to me to process the refund and that person was busy with another customer - service faux pas number 1 as I left was waiting. When another assistant stepped in to help the situation (nice bit of intuitive service on her part), she told me that they only give cash refunds because it cost them as a business to process refunds back onto a credit card which is what I had asked for. This service revelation number 2 only made me feel that they wanted to avoid satisfying the customer if it cost them in any way. I was incensed. Then I was told that because I wanted a refund on to my credit card, a more senior person had to be called - uh oh, mistake number 3. This most important person in the shop arrived; he interrogated me about the product and asked if I hadn't examined it properly at point of purchase - wow! It didn't take long to get to frustration level number 4! Whilst I got my refund, I came away feeling that I had been subjected to lousy service and that I was not a valued customer because the company was having to hand back money rather than to take it from me. I vowed to myself to not buy from them again in a hurry. The ridiculous thing was, that even though they had done exactly what I wanted, the HOW they did it left me feeling very dissatisfied and cross with them, not only as a shop and a local member of the community, but also with the 3 assistants involved as individual people.
Last month, TwoSpoons ran the first of their monthly competitions - join our Quirky Message Club by giving us your email details and think up a message for us to stamp on a teaspoon and you could win that teaspoon with the message hand stamped on to it for free. We love this competition! Not only does it give us a lovely way to engage with our new and growing band of loyal followers, but it also gives us great new ideas for our spoons. With the launch of our new website in April, it was something we wanted to blow our trumpet about. We had lots of entries to choose from and decided on our winner, which we announced here on our blog. However, we had made a mistake. We attributed the winning message to a different person to the one who gave it to us. With much wringing of hands, we realised a glitch in the background of our newly built site had created the error, but nonetheless, we had let it slip through. When the winner contacted us to say how she never won prizes and was so pleased but that actually we had someone else's name beside it and she understood that she therefore wasn't the winner, we were overwhelmed with her generous nature. We knew we had made a mistake and we were desperate to put it right. So, we simply announced TWO winners for that month and gave free products to both. It gave us more pleasure to do so than they may ever know. And if making your customer happy coincides with making you feel good, then surely that's service with a beaming wide smile?
We can all get it wrong; we can all make mistakes; we are all only human behind the company facade. But the best prize of all, in any business, is having those with the attitude to make it right again.