I recently went on a golf trip and upon arriving at the airport found my bag damaged. As you can see from the pics, it looked like it was dragged all the way from Connecticut to Florida.
Since these blogs try to get at the heart of how a customer feels through service, I tried to relate how my customers must feel when they get something damaged. Because this was just a golf bag and although there was additional damage to the things on the inside, I really didn’t have any emotional attachment. In fact, I kind of needed another one anyhow. What I did care about was the fact that no one brought it to my attention. The staff for the airline just threw the ripped bag on the conveyor and left it for me to decide what to do.
Being in the service business and one that deals with lots of damaged goods, this experience made me think of how could this happen? How is this similar to other businesses? Is it expecting too much for an employee to bring damaged items to a manager’s attention? Is this not common sense? Does this have to be trained? What should have happened?
I’ll start with the business I know and with first-hand experiences with this kind of thing. Recently, I got involved with a customer who received a tablecloth back with holes in it. For those of you reading these blogs from the beginning, you will recognize this as a Code Red which is how we report any negative customer experience. Our system is to contact the customer when we see any damage whether it’s caused by the cleaning or inherent in the fabric. If we can’t contact the customer, we put a note on the piece and record it in the POS.
Because we failed to note the customer in advance, the conversation was much different. There was a loss of trust in addition to the disappointment. Think of how the conversation would have gone if we were to have called in advance and explained that the fabric was weakened and came apart in the wash. Compare this to the reaction of the customer when she goes to set the table and there’s a hole in the tablecloth. Guess what the topic of conversation will be at dinner?!!!
Here’s another experience which, I am guessing, is a result of training. Another travel experience but this time with a rental car company surprised me with some over the top service. Upon returning the car, the employee asked: “how was everything?” My wife said fine except there was a bit of a smokey smell. Although the employee didn’t say anything, the manager, who overheard, came over and apologized and gave us a $75.00 credit toward our next rental. The reason I think this is training and a strategic customer service plan is that I had a similar experience with the same rental car company where they generously offer credits when there is not really a complaint.
What’s going on here?
Let’s start with the feeling we had when the manager gave us a credit for just mentioning our experience was just slightly sub par. “Surprise and delight” is one of our top service concepts and that is a pretty good summary of our feeling. Could there also be a retention strategy here where the credit is used to build loyalty and get customers to return? The fact that this happened twice and I’m not a frequent traveler leads me to believe it’s part of a bigger plan.
What’s wrong with a compensation strategy that is good customer service and builds loyalty? Nothing!
I ended up getting an $80 check for my damaged luggage but still felt disappointed that I had to be the one to complain and haggle for compensation. If only they had brought this to my attention in advance, I’m sure I would have had a completely different experience.