I had the pleasure of speaking with my good friend Sheryl Bindelglass recently, and we got to talking about customer service (big surprise!). She was telling me about some horrible experiences she had lately and how they were eventually resolved.
The first was a multi-faceted airline mishap that compounded one bad experience upon another. One flight was late, the next flight closed its door early, no one in the terminal seemed willing or able to help, and when it was all said and done (after Sheryl’s 24-hour cool down period), she called and was on hold for 2 hours and still was never connected to a person she could talk to.
So, she sent a tweet. Within 22 minutes there was a response on Twitter, stating how sorry they were and inquiring if there was anything they could do.
Now, don’t get me wrong… I applaud the quick response and offer to assist. I just wonder if so much effort would be needed on service recovery if their regular customer service… um… didn’t suck.
Along the same lines, Sheryl told me about an experience at a restaurant where the manager came over to remedy a situation and handed them his business card. Not only was it his card, but it was also a $20 voucher for a future visit. How much time, effort and energy went into the process of making that card that could have been spent fixing the service issues they had so the card wouldn’t be necessary?
We all know that people make mistakes and we won’t be able to eliminate ALL of the need for service recovery, but as leaders we can (and should) be looking at the situations that cause people to complain so we can try to eliminate THOSE. As an example:
When hearing this story about the airline, I asked Sheryl why they would close the cabin door early? She said that it states on your ticket that they reserve the right to do that. Okay, but why? Are they trying to make up time? Especially when you have people that are not on board yet, wouldn’t you give them until the advertised time to get to the gate to board the plane? Maybe there are legitimate reasons, but look at the cavalcade of frustration it causes. This wasn’t a mistake by a well-intentioned employee, it was a willful act made possible by a policy. Somewhere there has to be a leader in that organization that can connect the dots and see what sort of havoc this caused.
If you are worried about the rash of negative publicity that is possible on social media enough to have someone monitor those outlets 24/7, then you should also be worried about eliminating the conditions that created a need to complain in the first place.
Here’s the kicker… even with all of the shenanigans and bad service happening, if ANY of the employees that Sheryl interacted with (before the tweet) had simply said “I’m sorry”, that tweet would have never been sent and you wouldn’t be reading this post right now.
Sometimes the best defense IS a good offense.
Thanks for reading!
Prepare your teams to play great offense this year! Give them the training, coaching and guidance that they need to succeed!