The other day, my friend, Paolo, shared a sad experience with a restaurant in an upscale part of town on his Facebook page. He complained about the portion size of a $3.80 ‘lunch special’. I am not disclosing the name of the restaurant, as it was not my personal experience. However, I saw the photo and I was surprised that someone in the kitchen thought that was good enough to serve to a customer.
He did a clever thing, instead of calling the manager who probably can’t do anything about it anyway (I could imagine the manager saying, “but we followed the standard weight instructed to us” or “it came pre-packed from the commissary”), he wrote his complaint on a paper napkin, took a photo of it next to the sad plate of food and shared it on Facebook. He wrote that he normally tips 10-20% but the meal he was served “was such an insult, I felt it wasn’t even worth 1%” and I had to wait 30 minutes for it! Please tell management to stop offering that (S%@!)”
He left the napkin, which eventually reached the company’s Executive Chef, who reached out to him and apologized. He wanted to invite Paolo back to the restaurant for lunch or dinner. My friend replied that there was no need for it. It’s enough that they do something about the lunch specials on their menu so others won’t have to suffer the same experience.
I’ve been a victim of too many bad customer experiences over the years to know that many organizations still don’t get what customer recovery is really about.
Do you think my friend who felt so affected with his experience and bothered to give them feedback would go back? I have yet to ask him, but if I were in his place, I probably wouldn’t. Would you?
Some months ago, I had a bad experience when I ordered from Bonchon for food delivery. My orders arrived more than 90 minutes after the call was made (they promised 45-60 minutes), plus the company’s hotline was not accessible in the two calls I had to make to follow up. Service was not proactive. They claimed the rider met an accident, which caused the delay, and there was no intention to update the customers affected. What made the ordeal worst was the rider who brought my food did not mention any accident that happened when I asked what caused the delay. He said the delay was because they had too many deliveries to make. I felt someone came up with the story that the rider met an accident to make me feel pity towards the poor rider who was just doing his job, and shame on me for getting angry for being hungry when someone’s life could have been in danger. The idea that they could manipulate the feelings of their customers in this manner made me angrier.
At the end of the day, companies with trusted names continue to fail on offering consistent customer experiences because there’s just no customer recovery system in place. So let’s say the accident did happen (I don’t need any proof of it really). If their operations had been seamless, there was no need to tell the customer about the accident causing the delay because the operations team had already planned for these unusual but realistic situations. Upon learning about the accident, the store manager would have known how many customers were affected, and how long the delay had been vs. their committed 45-60 minute wait. There was nothing in place to resolve it. Why should I suffer and receive cold food, which I paid for in full? Why does it always have to be the customer who has to bear the effects of ineffective operations? There’s no reason at all for me to continue to give them business and I don’t intend to in the future. I shared the same thoughts when I wrote the owner and their customer care department. I received calls from the company the next day apologizing and offered me food to be delivered whenever convenient.
While the thought and the gesture of both the Bonchon representative and the Executive Chef of the restaurant my friend, Paolo, visited may be sincere and only had the best of intentions, it’s not effective. For customers like Paolo and I, sharing feedback is not about getting a free meal, it’s feedback because we want them to improve. Not many people would really bother to do this, and that’s why businesses should have a strong customer recovery process for cases such as these. When you have it in place, you are being proactive, but what we see is the opposite. Businesses tend to be very reactive on complaints. It’s case-to-case and discretionary, which means, there’s no standard to begin with.
The problem I see:
- What is the point really? It seemed to me that after offering a free meal has been said, their job must be done, whether the customer accepts it or not, it’s no longer the company representative’s concern. So, is offering a free meal or a free product really the point of customer recovery? The answer is a big NO, because by offering it, it doesn’t mean you were able to recover that customer you just lost. The point of customer recovery is to make that customer come back as a paying customer and even tell other people how amazing you were at regaining back the trust.
- Give the customer dignity. I could remember being offered a free meal 3 times in the past as a response to giving feedback for bad service, and I did not accept any of those. Why? The company does not make it easy for me to do it. Let’s go back to my Bonchon experience, the representative said just call him if I want some Bonchon food delivery sent to my home. Why couldn’t he just say, “Ms. Patel, would you be home for dinner tonight? May we send you our Bonchon food delivery? We do not wish that your last experience with us was a sad one, and we sincerely would like to make it up to you and to show our appreciation for taking the time to send us your feedback.” This is what giving the customer you lost some dignity. Don’t make him or her go through the awkward process of having to avail your offer of a free meal. If you really want the customer to come back, send him or her a Gift Certificate which he or she can avail of any time at your establishment. Make it an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
Perhaps you would ask, was there ever a time I accepted an offer as part of the company’s customer recovery effort? Yes, with Makati Diamond Hotel. They did it very well, made me feel respected as a customer and there was no awkwardness in having to say yes to their offer for a free stay (this experience deserves its own post).
It’s always easier to not see the experience from your customer’s perspective, but that is a decision one must make when you know you’ve been given a second chance and you thank your lucky stars that you do have a shot at earning back your customer’s respect and trust or lose that customer forever. When you see it this way, the decision seems obvious, right? Not all customers who complain are opportunists, most of the time, people just care enough to tell you the truth.
Hiring someone for a customer service role can be challenging. More than their academic background and work experience, what we really need to evaluate is if the personality of the candidate matches the values of the brand she or he will represent. There are people who are innately strong in interpersonal intelligence, and this should be one of the criteria hiring managers should consider. What management tend to overlook is that front-liners are the brand’s ambassadors.
If we keep this in mind the next time we hire a new sales staff, a bank teller, or a customer service officer, we will spend less time training them on customer service 101, instead, we can focus on how their natural passion to engage and relate with people can help your business grow.
The most technologically-advanced method to discover a person’s innate intelligence (which includes interpersonal intelligence) is through MindPrint, to learn more, visit www.mindprint.ph
After the successful seminar in January 2019 as part of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) Excellence (Retail EXL) series, PRA and SatisFIND present the 1st Retail Industry Mystery Shopping Program in the Philippines. This program is only open to members of PRA.
If you are interested to participate, click below.
Not yet a PRA member? Click to view the different PRA membership options.
For more than a decade, SatisFIND has been home to a community of customers who believe in changing the way businesses look at customer service through the feedback we share as mystery shoppers. For those who are interested to be a SatisFIND mystery shopper click http://satisfind.com/be-an-advocate
Understanding what mystery shopping is:
Mystery Shoppers are real customers who visit establishments they would anyway go to based on their usual lifestyle. The only difference between a regular customer visit and a mystery shopping visit is that the mystery shopper evaluates the experience while he or she is there based on guidelines provided prior to the visit. As a mystery shopper, your role is to provide feedback on what you experienced.
Mystery Shopping has been around since the 1940s and has been an effective method to provide truthful and detailed feedback to business owners and management teams about their own service delivery. Over the decades, mystery shopping has evolved and is used to evaluate opportunities to improve customer service, understand training needs of the service frontliners and recognize the strengths the employees have.
What mystery shopping is not:
While some may think of mystery shopping as an audit or policing employees, the truth is, it is not meant to find fault in people. Though service and experience gaps will be exposed, it is for the organization to recognize opportunities to support its people. SatisFIND believes that if businesses will take care of its employees, they will in turn take care of their customers. Everyone wins in the end!
Qualities of a SatisFIND mystery shopper:
We don’t ask our mystery shoppers to do something out of the ordinary and beyond what a customer would normally do. Anyone wanting to help improve customer service, can observe well, have an eye for detail, remember things well, reliable, fair and can express observations well in writing, would make a great SatisFIND mystery shopper.
But what really matters at SatisFIND is the attitude of our mystery shoppers. Mutual respect and trust are values we have always believed in when working with our mystery shoppers. We appreciate mystery shoppers who thoroughly read and follow instructions well, as all information needed by the mystery shopper is provided in the project brief we provide. A complete understanding of the project brief and a review of the questionnaire before conducting the assignment will prevent you from missing out on an important item during your evaluation.
A SatisFIND Mystery Shopper’s responsibility:
While mystery shopping is fun and seen as a unique way of providing feedback to people who can make differences in an organization for the better, we take your mystery shopping reports very seriously. Real businesses and real people’s lives are affected with every report submitted by our mystery shoppers. The only thing we ask from our mystery shoppers who accept an assignment with us is to follow the instructions and timeline with a sense of commitment and responsibility. There will be many opportunities to work with SatisFIND, if you are not yet sure of your schedule, please do not block off a slot and reserve an assignment you cannot commit to conducting yet. We would like to give all our shoppers the opportunity to experience mystery shopping. We believe in the power of effective feedback.
What to expect from SatisFIND:
SatisFIND matches on-going projects with the customer profile of our shoppers. When you are matched with a project, you will receive an email inviting you to participate. Information about the project will be provided, such as guidelines, timeline, compensation and access to the questionnaire to be submitted after your mystery shopping visit. Compensation varies per project. Some projects provide a flat token fee, some provide a reimbursable purchase allowance for products bought or food consumed.
Accepting a mystery shopping assignment with SatisFIND will always be your choice and decision to make. Should you find the project interesting and worth your time and effort, you may respond by reserving for a slot for a branch near you. You will have to commit to a date and time you can conduct the assignment within the period provided for a particular project. The report must be submitted within 24 hours from the time you completed the assignment. It is most effective when we submit the feedback as soon as we can so it is fresh from our memory.
Founded by Michelle Perez Patel in 2005 in the Philippines, SatisFIND provides in-depth mystery shopping and customer experience solutions to various organizations. SatisFIND currently has offices in the Philippines, Singapore and India.
The Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) has conducted the 44th Retail Excellence (Retail EXL) Seminar, giving the attendees a “crash course” on planning and designing a successful Mystery Shopping program for their company, last January 23, 2019.
SatisFIND founder Michelle Patel during the 44th Retail EXL
The seminar, held at the Joy-Nostalg Hotel and Suites Manila in Pasig City was facilitated by Mystery Shopping and Customer Insighting expert Michelle Patel.
During the seminar, she explained to the attendees that Mystery shopping is more relevant today because companies need actionable insights and data to be competitive, to innovate and increase engagement.
She gave a lively discussion on the benefits of Mystery Shopping for both online and offline stores, as well as debunked misconceptions on mystery shopping such as that it is not an audit and not meant to find fault in people.
“It is our job to give them (customers) a consistent brand experience. Strong brands stay in business because they are committed to it,” she told the attendees.
“To mystery shop is to be proactive, instead of staying reactive. You take action before the problem escalates. You avoid the blame game because you are in control,” she added.
During the seminar, participants were also given activities to help them understand better mystery shopping by crafting a desired customer experience journey and mapping the employee experience.
Retail EXL is a series of seminars aimed at upgrading and updating the skills and competencies of retailers and helping create a more competitive retail workforce. This is done in partnership with industry experts and experienced trainors. http://www.philretailers.com/