Customers are already frustrated when they either call your organization or visit your organization to complain about a product or service they purchased. It’s happened to me before. I made a purchase. I got home ready to use my product but when I opened the package the item was broken. Deep sigh. Exhale. I had to return to the store to exchange the item. If this happened to you before you already know how this scene played out.
As I approached the sales clerk I saw her shoulders rise. She seemed to have been bracing for our encounter. With greetings and pleasantries out of the way, I explained to the young lady that the item I purchased earlier was faulty. The item was in a box that was not opened prior to me leaving the store. I trusted that the purchase would be intact and ready for use when I got home.
The sales clerk advised me that it was her company’s policy that no returns are accepted once an item leaves the store. Calmly I explained and took responsibility for not checking the item prior to leaving. It was verified that no checks of the item was done by the other sales clerk either. This conversation continued with the sales clerk trying her best to “protect the company” and to refute my request for a refund. Finally after realizing that I was not budging, the young lady asked me to hold a moment while she spoke with her manager.
After a few minutes of conversation with her manager, the young lady returned this time with her manager at her side. Her manager then asked me how she could help me. Honestly for a moment I saw red. This could not be happening. Didn’t the sales clerk have a conversation with her regarding my situation and the manager seriously wanted me to repeat the entire thing? I refused. Situations like this cause customer service recovery to go awry.
Calmly I told the manager that the situation was shared in great detail with the sales clerk. The manager responded “Oh yes. She explained it to me.” I was totally blown away by that statement. The manager proceeded to explain the company’s policy once again however because there were a few complaints similar to mine in the past few days, she would make the “exception” to grant me a refund. I am yet again blown away.
As I walked away from the establishment I replayed the entire situation and came to some conclusions:
- There was obviously a problem with the item they were selling if I was not the only customer returning the item.
- Instead of owning up to the situation and making the return easy I was hassled by the clerk who was aware that they had sold faulty units similar to mine to other customers.
- I was engaged in an unpleasant situation with a clerk who was placed in a position to enforce a policy she knew would get an override from her manager once escalated. I empathized with her.
- The manager was prepared to “test” my resolve for a refund prior to granting one.
Now I wholeheartedly agree with you. I should have checked the item prior to leaving the store. A valuable lesson learnt. I didn’t want the hassle of opening a large box and lifting out heavy contents. In hindsight, it would have saved me time and a headache. Nevertheless, while this is something I should have done, my trust in that company went down numerous notches. Without trust, business is difficult to conduct. This means that that company will not be a first option for any products I may need in the future. Not just because of the faulty item but also because of the poor handling of the situation; for placing it’s employee in a poor position to defend the business when she knew she could not win as opposed to engaging in proper customer service recovery methods. In addition for having a manager who was okay doing what was ethically questionable prior to doing the right thing in this situation.
When an organization knows that it has a faulty product, it should initiate a process to ethically handle any customers impacted negatively by it. This could be proactive by checking the product prior to it leaving the store or checking its entire inventory to remove faulty items before them being placed on the shop floor for sale. It could also be retroactively by having a proper process for handling replacements/refunds hassle free.
Mishandling situations like this can seriously result in loss of customers, negative impacts to the company’s brand and reputation and a solid hit to the company’s revenue projections.
Duquesa D. Dean is a Certified Trainer, Speaker and a Transformation Coach. She is an Associate Trainer with the International Board of Certified Trainers and has over 20 years experience in the customer service field. She coaches organizations large and small to lift their service levels and offers a unique style of customer service training. Duquesa is the author of two books “Chase Your Dreams” & “Bruised But Not Broken”. To book Duquesa email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.duquesadean.com.