We had a very interesting customer care experience recently that highlighted several key service learning points. The experience was not in the hotel sector, but in retail, which we are rapidly becoming interested in due to its fast pace as well as the similarities to and compatibilities with the hotel business. To be frank, we actually are of the opinion that it is a segment of hospitality and especially so in terms of its development in the United States, where a real experience is often created in everyday retail. Our recent particular example was far more fundamental but equally relevant to good practice.
Following the purchase of raw meat from a large food store we returned it due to an unusual aroma during cooking and a strange taste. The product was not unfit for consumption but was unique and not enjoyable. We were a little apprehensive due to the after-event nature of our complaint, although we still had the evidence. Our apprehension was due to less-than-satisfactory experiences in some large food chains historically.
On arrival with the goods we politely pointed out to the butchery manager the issue. His reaction and behavior was in our view textbook with a realistic and practical edge.
First, he listened intensely, showing care and concern without saying very much. He then asked a few pertinent questions and examined the goods. This was immediately followed by a decision to refund in full, which was communicated simply and effectively. This allowed him the opportunity to explain that the issue was a packaging one, which although affecting flavor and aroma did not inhibit the safety of the product. He spoke with authority and knowledge. This was followed by providing personal details and an invitation to telephone in the future, and the store would happily drive to our home with new supplies immediately, should they be needed.
The learning points are clear:
- Listen intensely and sincerely to your customers.
- Make decisions without referral to fix customer issues.
- Communicate decisions that fix issues clearly and concisely.
- Be honest and have integrity.
- Promote additional services.
- After satisfying the customer and if relevant, deal with the facts and the detail that protects your business and reputation.
- Grow your customer network. Use the opportunity to market your business and secure repeat business and a lifelong customer.
As a result we are lifelong repeat customers. That has to be a great result! Just think of all the opportunities to market your business.
We welcome your similar experiences and case studies.