Duquesa D. Dean's Blog

#vision #purpose #emerge #stronger

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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 duquesa@duquesadean.com or visit her website at www.duquesadean.com.

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A few months back, I had the most unpleasant travel experience of my life. I needed to return home a day earlier than initially booked and so I purchased a business class one way ticket to ensure I was able to arrive home as needed.  Well to make a long story short after NUMEROUS delays and inconveniences, I finally arrived at my destination at 1am the day I had originally booked.  As a result of the way this particular airline handled this experience, I decided that they would be a very last option for me for future travel.

As the events of this experience unfolded I sat with disbelief that a reputable airline would create a situation that even the most passive customer would be annoyed by.  They did this by not being upfront in their communication with passengers waiting to get to their destinations.  They were not proactive with providing information and/or updates and they placed their employees in a position to deal “abuse” from hundreds of angry customers who had connecting flights, appointments and other pressing situations that they now had to scramble to rearrange.

Now after putting pen to paper and writing to them about the inconveniences I experienced, the airline did provide a two hundred dollar voucher to be redeemed for future travel. I decided to utilize the voucher to assist with a ticket for my son to return from college on a school break. The process to redeem this voucher was EXTREMELY frustrating.  It was like a dentist pulling an impacted wisdom tooth which further irritated me and solidified my position not to travel on this airline again. 

A customer service recovery process should be seamless, smooth and customer friendly.  Here’s what happened:

I tried to redeem the voucher online. This was not possible. The online reservation would not accept the voucher number and kept indicating that an error occurred.

I tried to redeem the voucher by phone. This was not possible.  I was told by the agent on the phone that the way that particular voucher worked was by mail in redemption.  Were they serious? You mail me voucher and then I must book a ticket and mail the voucher back for a credit refund?  I challenged this process and was then advised I could to DRIVE to the airport to let the agent at the airport redeem it for me.

I drive to the airport and the agent tries to redeem the voucher. The system would not accept it. She calls to get help from another local agent in the back office but to no avail.  She then calls the airline’s international customer service call center where she was advised that the voucher could not be redeemed for the rate I was booking.  Can you imagine my frustration as this is all unfolding? Why provide a credit voucher with limitations and/or specific requirements and don’t communication those redemption instructions?

The persistent agent tries again. This time she was transferred to the IT department for assistance.  She had to, for the 4th time, explain the situation to her colleagues.  Finally, after spending an HOUR of my time at the airport, the agent was able to redeem the voucher towards the reservation and charge my credit card to cover the balance of the fare.The agent’s persistence and drive to redeem the voucher is commendable.  She had just a few minutes remaining in her shift when I arrived but stayed overtime to assist.  She could have simply said there was no way to redeem it and left at the end of her shift but she didn’t.  Her desire to provide me with a resolution was indeed refreshing and appreciated.

Nevertheless, customer recovery should not create inconveniences!  If you are trying to compensate a client or recover an irate client, the recovery process should be smooth & efficient.  It should make doing business with your company easy so that the customer is patronizing the business in the future.  Further inconvenience will not aid in customer recovery efforts.

As I close this blog today, I encourage business establishments to inspect their customer recovery process.  A complaining customer is a gift.  They are identifying ways you have let them and perhaps other clients down and allowing you the opportunity to improve.  Embrace the feedback and inspect your processes to ensure you are being customer friendly. Create positive emotional memories for your customers so that when they need the service you are offering they are happy to patronize your business.



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 duquesa@duquesadean.com or visit her website at www.duquesadean.com.

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