Friday, May 18, 2007

Customer Care again ...

I would like to return briefly to the subject of customer care.

Last time I raised this it created more comments than most topics so I just wanted to put the positive side of customer care forward.

My previous post was about how front line staff were unable - it seemed to me - to make any decision about flexibility and pleasing the customer.

How wonderful it is to report there are some people who just take the bull by the horns and use their plain common sense and intiative without having to be scared about ‘asking the boss’ or ‘worrying about what the procedure says.’

Two weeks ago Annie and I went along to our local fish and chip shop and ordered our take away family meal. When we arrived home we discovered the curry sauce had not been placed in the bag. It was not worth going back so we put it down to experience and enjoyed our meal.

Yesterday we went back to the same fish and chip shop and casually mentioned this matter - a wee bit tongue in cheek.

The young lady dealt with our current order and we paid.

Just as we were about to leave the shop she handed us 90p which was the value of the previous unpacked Curry sauce order from 2 weeks before.

She didn’t have to believe us but she did.

NOW THAT IS WHAT I WAS DRIVING AT IN MY LAST RANT

AT LAST SOMEONE SHOWED SOME COMMON SENSE

SHE SHOWED INITIATIVE

SHE DIDN’T HAVE TO ASK SOMEONE MORE SENIOR

SHE JUST DID IT!!

WONDERFUL!!

IT GIVES ME HOPE AND SO MUCH PLEASURE TO COMPLIMENT SOMEONE WHO JUST QUIELTY USED HER INITIATIVE AND CREATED 2 POTENTIALLY LIFETIME CUSTOMERS WHO WILL TELL OUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT.

SIMPLICITY!!!

AMEN!

10 comments:

Richard said...

Hi Trevor

This is far from a simple matter of customer care... First to do what the service provider did for you was no more nor less than good manners, common decency, etc. Surely it was worth the 90p tip to you if you are a liar rather than lose you as a valued customer if you are telling the truth... But this for me is not the issue... The issue is it should never have happened in the first place and given the response here - merely to give you some money back I can assure you that it will happen to you again at that shop... Second real customer care happens when the service provider takes on the full responsibility of your customer experience... You had a meal that you enjoyed way less than 100% because of an error by the service giver... Let me say conservatively you only enjoyed your meal 60% as well as you would have could have if the curry sauce was there... If the curry sauce made no difference why did you order it... Your utility of enjoyment was reduced on several fronts - annoyance, taste buds, etc... So true customer care is about making absolutely certain that this event never ever happens to Trevor Gay or any other customer ever again... The mindsets and the systems have to be improved in that shop or it will happen again... My bet is you have a 50-50 chance that this or some similar event will happen with your orders from this shop over the next few months....

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks for that Richard and of course you are right about the aim of ‘zero error’ in customer care – I would always support that. Inevitably there will always be error because human beings are involved. In my previous Simplicity discussion on customer care I was calling for more power to be given to front liners to allow them discretion to make decisions to satisfy the customer rather than front liners having to work in a jobsworth culture because of rigid policies from management. What impressed us about this girl was that she alone made a decision – to hell with what policies may say – she decided the customer was right and the shop was wrong. She had no proof of that but her instinct was to please the customer which of course she did. I agree there may well be mistakes in that shop again and actually I believe no system, where people are involved, can ever be guaranteed to be faultless. Although I am with you 100% that must always be the aim. What this example reassures me most about is there are many people who will just get on and do the business for the customer without being bogged down in pettiness and silly rules.

David Wike said...

Yes, we should aim for 100% and should put in place the necessary training and processes to ensure that it happens. However, we can be reasonably sure that we will not achieve 100% all of the time. So what matters then is how we deal with the situation. Two positive examples:

We only have a newspaper on Saturdays. This is ordered from the local newsagent for us to collect. A couple of weeks ago there had been an oversight and our copy was not reserved. They had sold out of all other copies except for one that didn’t have the magazine supplement included. I like to read the magazine so declined this copy. The newsagent admitted that it was his mistake and said he would get another copy and deliver it to my home. Sure enough, a couple of hours later my newspaper was delivered. For me his customer care more than made up for the initial error.

The second example concerns a professional organisation. They made a serious error of judgement which probably constituted professional misconduct. As it happened, no harm was done, but nevertheless we made our feelings known to them very clearly. We received a letter of apology from one of the two partners in the organisation, admitting that he was personally responsible for the error, with a brief explanation as to how it had occurred. Now, he could have written a bland letter, maybe even implying that a member of staff was responsible, but no, he put his hands up and said it was his mistake. His honesty has restored our faith in his organisation and I am quite sure that that particular error will not be repeated.

Trevor Gay said...

Fantastic story about the newspaper David that I had read in your Random Ramblings – thank you for sharing it on Simplicity Blog.

You story about the professional organisation reminds me of a story of a friend of mine who sadly had both legs amputated due to a chronic illness. A dreadful mistake was made by the surgeon in one of two major operations that could very easily have resulted in a major compensation claim against the doctor. My friend (the patient) decided not to pursue a claim because he had such great respect for the surgeon who had told him about the mistake openly; had accepted the full responsibility for it; and had apologised.

Huge messages contained in all these stories thank you David.

Richard said...

David your examples are good ones - of course people will stuff up but it is their ability to repair the resultant mess that is "customer care" for me... The classic book on customer care is "Moments of truth" - a memorable little book about the turnaround of SAS in the cut throat airline business... The moment of truth comes whenever the staff and the consumers meet within the system - is there a problem? can I fix it for you? did I fix it to your liking? these are some of the key questions in the heads of talented staff... If all of those questions can be answered then that customer will go away happy and remarkably will forgive you many (forgotten the exact number) times when you stuff up in the future...

I guess that is all I have to say about customer care...

Ultimately you may have a "duty of care" to your consumers, users, customers that is not obvious to "front line staff" but is legally binding....

Troy Worman said...

Great story, Trevor, but I am curious about the fish and chips. Did they look much like those in your picture?

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Troy - those are fish and chips on a plate - to really appreciate traditional English fish and chips you need to see them n paper – I will send you some more pictures of authentic fish and chips!! – You must try them one day!

Felix Gerena said...

From my past experiences in the Oxfordshire area, I support Trevor's statement that fish'n'chips must be tasted on paper. :)

Trevor Gay said...

Well said Felix! - And of course with plnety of slat and vinegar! :-)

Annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.