A few months ago, I organized an event for work, which required me to work with a vendor. Days before the event, I spoke with the owner and gave all the information needed – location and address of the venue, where to park, dress code, identification required, and where to set up the equipment. He confirmed everything and gave me the names of the staff I should expect to see on the morning of the event.
The day came and as early as 7am, I received an SMS from his staff asking where the venue is nearby. I texted the owner and said, “your staff is asking me information I already gave you. Handle it please.” After about half an hour, the venue coordinator called and said the vendor was asking her something technical she could not decide on.
I called the owner and said, why is your staff asking the venue coordinator things they would not know of? I reminded him that I gave him all the information he needed, nothing more, nothing less. And I still had a million things to do. He apologized for the confusion and said he will talk to his team.
He called back and told me confidently, “my boys are just DOUBLE-CHECKING to make sure everything is correctly set up.” I replied – “No, they were not double checking. They were asking things that they shouldn’t be asking in the first place if they had the information we discussed previously. I’m trying to be efficient about this set-up and I got you as the vendor because you are the expert in what you do, not me, not the venue coordinator.” He was silent for a moment then replied, “Ok so I will tell my boys to not double-check with you anymore.”
Breathe In. Breathe Out. I realized that morning, how people grossly abused the term, DOUBLE-CHECK.
According to Merriam-Webster, to Double-check means to check (something) again in order to be certain.
Last evening, the restaurant staff handed me my bill and said, “Kindly double check”. My left brain asked my right brain – ‘how can I double-check if I’m only about to check the bill now?’
Why do we say ‘double-check’, when what we mean is to simply ‘check’? Does it make us look more hardworking when we say ‘double-check’? Using it in a customer service context makes it worse, in my opinion. To say you will double-check does not give any more assurance to the customer when you are trying to solve his or her problem. The last time I called my telecom provider to ask some irregularity in my bill. Immediately, the agent said, “let me double-check”. My soul screamed silently –‘What is there to double-check when you’re about to check it for the first time now?’
In customer service, language is very important. Words used must be precise and deliberate because they strike a cord in your customers’ emotions, especially in customer recovery situations. Say ‘double-check’ when you are going to verify something again. It could even be a cross-check done by another personnel. In replying to your customer, there’s nothing wrong in saying, “Let me check on this now…”
There’s this charming little book I picked up in India many years ago called “The Ice Cream Maker” by Subir Chowdhury. I learned about the principle of “getting it right the first time” and the value this mindset for quality brings to an entire organization.
If we aim to get things right the first time, then that’s real efficiency and there won’t be a need to double-check or triple-check, right?
Image source: jaywalkingbackwards
Wishing all our Customer Advocates, Clients, Partners
and Friends a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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.
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