From Where I Sit – Making Things Right

Readers of this space may remember an earlier column called Rant Alert! Rant Alert! In it, I blew off steam about deteriorating customer service that appears to be the rule rather than the exception. I bemoaned the prevalence of incompetent, uninterested, disengaged employees all across the spectrum, from mom and pop stores to big-box stores, from e-commerce sites to multinationals, from franchises to chains.

I have not made it my life’s work to search out maddening merchants and unsettling incidents to bitch about. I’m just as likely to write letters of praise or speak to a superior when I receive exceptional service. Or it may be ordinary service delivered by an extraordinarily cheerful, pleasant, funny person. You know–someone who either loves people and their job or are doing a great job of acting as if they do. Letters of commendation and thanks should end up in personnel files just as surely as complaint letters do.

I’m here to report that sometimes apologies or recompense are so slow in coming you give up hope of actually having your issue addressed. Other times, it’s prompt, unexpected, and delivered with grace. It brings to mind two five-dollars-off cards from Dalton’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant given when we waited too long for our meal. Or a card for a complimentary dessert from Moxie’s when I ordered a dish that ended up being too hot for my taste.

More recently Ben Moss gave me a $50 gift card for the inconvenience caused by repeated trips to the store after a ring purchase. It got me back into the store. These people know how to hang onto a customer.

In March, I wrote an email letter of complaint to the manager about rude, shoddy telephone service from a rep at Elkhorn Resorts in Canmore. Three and a half months later I got a letter from someone else with no fewer than five apologies in it. Was it finally dealt with because I told my sad story to a company marketing guy from the Manitoba office who happened to be working a trade show? Likely. Thanks, Troy.

The all-time record has to be Boston Pizza. Through one of my editors I got a message to call Brad at BP International. He found my “An Opportunity Lost” column on the Internet and wanted to make things right. Thirteen months after the incident this was welcome news. Today I received, by priority post, a wonderful letter of apology and a $50 gift card. Will I be going back to BP? You bet. Will I tell my story to anyone who’ll listen? You bet. Way to save a relationship, Brad.

My BIG problem is with Stores Online and is as yet unresolved. A word to the wise: with these guys, proceed with extreme caution. Hopefully, this story too will have a happy ending.

When you’ve had a bad retail experience expect a company to make things right. You deserve it, from where I sit.

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