First off, the customer service recovery to which I’m referring is that of a store, not me. I was the customer in this case, and dealt with a few “interesting” situations at a local store this past week.
They were ultimately handled well, and I think they serve as good examples of how a business can actually end up with more loyalty with by recovering from a bad situation. It seems like a paradox, but that’s basically how it ended up. Bad service, a nice reaction and recovery by them, and now I’m a bit more impressed by their service.
The two situations were at the same grocery store, a local place that’s actually very nice. They have a great salad and hot bar, fantastic bakery, and a tremendous selection of organic fruits and vegetables. Nice place to shop, and usually pleasantly uneventful. That is, except for the two bizarre experiences I had this week.
Example #1: The Insane Customer
So, I was at the store one day to pick up a healthy dinner. They have a great salad bar, as I mentioned, and that’s where I started. Loaded with kale, spinach, grilled chicken, and some fruit, I was putting together a super healthy dinner. Yeah, I know that sounds nutritious, but my lunch was far from that so I needed to offset it.
Anyway, right next to the salad bar was a station with 8 different types of soup. The aroma drew me over there to those giant pots. I lids were closed, however, so I opened up a couple of them to take a look. After all, if you’re considering buying something, you might want to see what it looks like. So I opened a few.
All of a sudden I heard someone say “get out of here!” I looked up, and saw another customer standing across from me looking at me. Was I hearing things? Surely she couldn’t have been talking to me.
So, I continued on, checking out a few more of the soup bowls. Then, I heard her say “that’s VERY RUDE! You know you’re not going to buy anything, so STOP doing that”.
Okay, nobody else was there except me, so it was obviously me she was talking to.
I looked up and said “Excuse me? All I’m doing is opening up the soup lids to look at the soup in case I want to buy something. There is nothing wrong with me checking them out. “
She glared at me, and started dropping expletives at me, telling me to get lost and stop being rude.
I paused, and thought to myself, “I am I doing something wrong here, or is this woman insane?” I settled on the latter. Who gets mad at a fellow customer for looking at soup? Yes, it’s bizarre.
I told her, immediately, that I didn’t appreciate verbal abuse and would go the store manager immediately. Now, I realize that the store manager might think that it would be like a kid going to tell his Mom that someone was mean to him. Or, worse, perhaps he would dismiss a complaint by a grown man about a woman who was probably 10 years older than him. But, if the store cared, they would make sure that a customer wouldn’t be treated this way and have an unpleasant experience.
The store manager listened to me, and I pointed the lady out as she decided to sneak away. We walked up to her, and he asked her if she said those things. She stammered that she didn’t know what he was talking about, and she had no idea who I was. Insane or a liar – now we have two possibilities.
I then smiled, ready to walk away, and my grin must have set the woman off. Then, she angrily told the store manager that “she can say what she wants to anyone”. Oh, so you really do remember me, eh?
At that point, he told me he’ll handle it from there. I walked away, calming down, back to my shopping. The manager then talked to me afterward telling me that he told the lady that she’s welcome to leave the store if she chooses to behave like that with other customers or staff. He also told me not to worry, I had done nothing wrong and that the woman was clearly imbalanced, and sorry for my experience in the store.
Okay, now that is a good example of a business handling a situation well.
Example #2: The $12 Cookie
At the same exact store, a few days after, I went in to get something for a celebration for one of my kids. Their bakery is really good, so that’s where I stopped. As a treat, I got him a giant cookie which was decorated with frosting to look like a basketball. You know, something a little kid would like.
The cookies were supposed to be $2 each. The very nice bakery lady got the cookie from the display, put it in a box, and then put a sticker on the box (with the bar code for the register). I smiled, said thanks, and walked over the express lane checkout.
I handed the cashier the box with the cookie, and she says: “that will be $12.00”.
Thinking I heard wrong, I said: “I’m sorry, did you say $12.00?”
“Yes, $12.00” she said with an annoyed tone.
I paused, and said “Actually, I’m only getting this cookie for my child. It’s supposed to be $2.00”
“No, it’s $12.00” she reiterated. With a tone that was clearly even more annoyed”.
I was stunned. At this point, I told her that it’s a cookie, and they don’t cost $2.00. And, that I’d go back to the bakery to get them to vouch for me.
So, I went back the bakery and told the nice lady there what happened. She looked at the box she gave me, and realized that earlier she had put the wrong sticker on it. The sticker was for a chocolate cake, hence the $12 cost.
However, as she pointed out, it’s hard to believe that the flat out told me I was wrong. Plus, common sense tells you that a cookie wouldn’t cost $12. She could’ve checked into it for me, instead of basically telling me to take it or leave it.
The bakery lady (manager?) then asked me to follow her over to the cashier. As we approached the cashier, she told her – in front of me – that she was in the wrong to treat a customer the way she did. And, that she was to give me the cookie for free.
So, I didn’t pay for it. I never asked or expected that, but the bakery lady made that gesture.
Again, really good customer service after an initial mistake.
First off, I know that these were really strange examples. I’m not someone who gets into these types of situations at all, so it’s odd that two happened in the same week at the same store. But, they did, and at a nice store in a nice area.
What I really took away from this is that when you have a bad experience, but the business tries to make it right, they can end up getting an even more loyal customer. That’s actually how I feel about that store now. Admittedly, we have joked at home about what’s going to happen the next time we go there.
It’s almost as if you have 3 scenarios:
- You have a good customer service experience
- You have a bad customer service experience and they do nothing about it
- You have a bad customer service experience and they try to make things right
The outcome that engenders the most loyal customer just might be scenario #3. Clearly, scenario #2 is not a great one. But with scenario #3, it’s different that scenario #1 in that there really was a bad experience involved. However, it was corrected.
Not sure if this was just me, but I think it’s something to consider as a service provider or a business. You might be able to recover and keep a loyal customer.
My Questions for You
Have you ever experienced a situation where you received poor service, but the business worked to make it up to you?
Did the business get back in your good graces after trying to recover? Beyond that, did they bring about more loyalty from you?