Customer Service — Yeah, Weʼre Out Of That Too.

Customer Service

While on a recent mini vacation in Menemsha, on lovely Martha’s Vineyard, we stayed at a charming inn, who shall remain nameless — unless you want to check out recent Trip Advisor reviews.  The view was spectacular, and the accommodations were lovely. We had heard good things about the restaurant (sadly before reading other Trip Advisor comments) and made a 7:15 p.m. reservation. Unfortunately, the one item I could eat on the limited menu, a lobster pasta, was already sold out. I was told I could have the dish, minus the lobster, for $2 off the regular price. No thanks, I didn't need a $28 bowl of spaghetti — ”But it is handmade,” intoned our otherwise disengaged waitress.  I was then offered the chef'sspecial vegetarian dish. It wasn’t what I really wanted, but being captive, I had little choice. What I got looked like it was stolen off of other entree plates on the way to the dishwasher. Have you ever had a potato ENTREE (albeit with a few flourishes of garnish) for dinner? Well, it exists on Martha’s’ Vineyard! $28 you say? Okay, at least I could have that lovely sounding cherry dessert since I was starving. Oh, you are out of that too? My 3 other dining companions were equally unimpressed with their meal, and the snail-paced service.The next morning when I asked to speak to the manager, I was informed the chef would come right out to speak with me. I am back home now and still waiting. The kind receptionist apologized (she gets a few points for that), then said there was nothing they could do. Funny, I thought of a few things: they could have voided my credit card payment, offered us a cooked breakfast instead of the skimpy continental breakfast, provided a voucher for a meal if we ever returned for a meal.... It was so obvious no one cared. I was also admonished because I should have known it was a very short season. Ah, then it must be okay to _____ people. I get it now. This restaurant was clearly desperate to make a buck at the expense of their customers' enjoyment and satisfaction. Did they instill loyalty? Think again.

On to my next poor customer experience of the week!  I received a coupon in the mail for a special introductory offer on engraved pens at a ridiculously low price. I was given a sample, and thought it was pretty nice for the price. These items could be a good thing to give out to clients, or have at an exhibit table. I placed an order, and when I received confirmation, I saw they had charged me the regular price which was over a dollar more per pen! I contacted the company, reading the coupon code off the advertisement, and was then told they never offered a coupon code with that number. Ok. I may need reading glasses on occasion, but I was sure the coupon came from the same company because they had the same phone number. I told them if they could not honor the one-time, new customer discount, would they kindly cancel the order. Please note, I always use good manners. To my surprise, I received a notice today that my pens were shipped out at the price I agreed NOT to pay. This story is to be continued.

Is your company “out of service.” too?

Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind!

1.  Manners still matter.  Treating people in a civilized way diffuses tensions and helps keep the conversation reasonable.

2.   Active listening must be part of the equation. Customers need to know that they have been heard. You may not agree with the complaint, or be able to fix it on the spot, but really “hearing” the issue can go a long way.

3.  Be open to solutions and compromises. If both parties feels satisfied with the solution, everyone wins.

Remember that we live in a plugged-in world. Poor customer service can spread like wildfire, and do more to damage your reputation than just losing one dissatisfied customer.

Excellent customer service establishes longterm relationships and facilitates customer loyalty.

And we all know THAT pays salaries and utility bills.

If your organization could benefit from learning how to accommodate your customers, and keep them happy, please contact The Whittaker Group. We would be delighted to help!