Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Customer Service?

Kristi Gustafson Barlette writes an article that brings forth a lot of antagonism from her readers. Rightly so... 


Situations like this makes me wonder. Does the owner of this salon really think like this? Do they really think that they are winning back an unhappy customer? I do realize that there are times when you cannot make a customer happy but to NEVER apologize is simply not very smart customer service. I think the owner was more concerned with justifying their procedures than they were with trying to understand what made the customer upset.

This reminds me of a time that my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary. We made reservations at a well know establishment in downtown Albany. We had never been there but we were excited because they had a reputation for being a fabulous place. We got dressed for the occasion and arrived a few minutes before our reservation time.

Although it was only early November there was snow and it was cold. We were wearing heavy coats over formal attire. Inside, the place was warm and alive. We were just brimming with happiness. The owner/hostess was on the phone and watched as we walked in. Instead of smiling and acknowledging us with any sort of gesture he turned his back on us and continued to talk on the phone.

I looked at my wife and she looked at me. Both of us a bit surprised but we continued to stand there... waiting. Every so often a waiter or waitress would push by us on their way to the kitchen. Never a hello. Never a welcome. Never a sorry but somebody will be right with you. We waited. The owner continued to talk on the phone. We waited and watched people eating. And we waited. Standing in an entrance way to the restaurant. Getting hot with winter coats. Unbuttoning them and wishing somebody would at least offer to hang them up for us. Instead we waited.

I am a patient man but after 20 minutes of waiting I was no longer patient.

We buttoned up our coats and walked out. Made it to our car as the owner came running out after us.
I rolled down my window to at least acknowledge him when nobody would acknowledge us. I expected and apology. Instead he was angry. Didn't I understand that he was on the phone with a customer and I shouldn't expect him to hang up on them to take care of me...

We made the exchange short and my wife and I went to Jack's Oyster House instead. I was still exasperated and explained my situation to the hostess there. Without a reservation they made room for us and seated us immediately as well as bought us an appetizer. Now there is exemplar customer service.

My story could have ended there but the owner of the other restaurant decided it was still necessary to call me at work the next day and continue with his tirade explaining how I was unreasonable. Never once apologizing. Never once trying to understand what I was so upset over. I could have explained that there were multiple ways that they could have shown that I was important. Simple acknowledgement with a gesture indication that he would be right with us. A short break from the phone conversation asking a waitress to seat us or at least take our coats...

The owner was more concerned about justifying his attitude than with trying to understand how to improve customer service. I'm not surprised that his restaurant closed forever a  few years later.

What is important to you when it comes to customer service?


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