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Customer Service in a Spin

I was delivering training to a great group Customer Service Advisors of recently- the team leader felt that internal standards were dropping and that calls had become more friendly chats. As a result assumptions were being  about what the customer needed”. Customers were being given gifts in the way of apology or appeasement to delivery failures.  The team did not actually consider how this might impact and actually be detrimental to the company. This lead to me to ask the question -Is the Customer always right an outdated concept? I am quite a tough cookie when it comes to the service I expect to be given - don’t get me wrong I do not have high expectations - any level of service would be appreciated. The worst experiences I have ever had happened to me a little while ago yet stand out by a country mile. My gorgeous purple coat become victim to a glass of vino in a particularly busy bar. I hurried to the Dry Cleaners the following day. I went to collect my coat  a day later and to my horror discovered that the once purple buttons were unrecognisable- scratched and dull.  When I asked the lady behind the counter about it, she stated: “ It was like that when you brought it in”. Reeling  from the shock, I explained in no uncertain terms that it had not been in its current state when I left it in her capable hands (ahem). The lady then announced to the unsuspecting laundry audience that I was a liar. I was somewhat taken aback and asked to speak to the Manager. When the manager emerged from behind a clothing rail, he stated “ Yes love it was like that when it came in.” To which the Assistant added “ And it’s against his religion to lie.........” It is not often I am left speechless but this was one of those times. I flounced out with damaged coat in hand feeing that the exercise was futile, to which the Assistant shouted “ I hope you are going to pay for that”. Needless to say no payment was made and I have driven out of my way to visit an alternative dry cleaners since that day. As I alluded to earlier I don’t think the customer is always right, however on this occasion an apology or acknowledgement was the least they could have done. Being accused of lying is never a nice experience and when we are in the right can leave us very cross. So in summary it is all about balance balance providing good customer service and going too far in the wrong direction. I believe that customers would much prefer us to get it right first time. Even if we don’t get it right first time, handling the situation and putting it right can actually create opportunity too. How we handle ourselves when things go wrong is often more telling! Never be frightened of saying sorry if you should- try and put it right as quickly as you can. I think the answer is crystal clear- deliver what you say you are going to, more if you can but never less. If everyone knows what their rights and responsibilities are in the business relationship it should always stay on the right track. There comes a point where a customer is no longer profitable – their expectation have got so far out of control we cannot deliver what they need. Sometimes we have to let them go. It is OK to offer alternatives and realistic options to what you can do for them too. We are only human.


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