However, sometimes mistakes happen.
In the first, we had a group of 8-10 people at a nice local restaurant. Because of what turned out to be a communications snafu at the front of the house, we were ignored after being seated. As we were enjoying each other’s company we remained in a good mood, but after 25 minutes I got up to politely inquire about whether we had been forgotten. For the next hour we were treated like kings and queens, with humble apologies, four free appetizers, frequent water refills, and three visits from the manager. Everybody left happy, and it isn't a coincidence that we've been back three times since then and continue to recommend the place to friends. A+
In the second, I ordered an item on the web for pickup at the company’s nearest brick-and-mortar location. When I went to pick it up, it could not be found. I asked if I could just get the item off the shelf rather than waiting for the web-ordered item to arrive. The clerk said she would have to charge me for the new purchase and then I could turn in the web-ordered item for a refund when it arrived. I returned home empty-handed thinking I’d gone to the store too early. Alas, the tracking confirmation showed the item had been delivered to the store, so I went back. Eventually, after going through three staff members and 45 minutes of waiting, I was given a free item from the store’s inventory because they’d lost the web-ordered version. I don’t think I will be placing web orders with that company any time soon, or recommending it to others. C-
Then there’s a well-known wireless communications company. Let’s call them XYZ. XYZ takes customer relations to a different level. I wanted to buy one of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” services. XYZ offers a pendant that includes a GPS locator system, so family members can see where the device is at all times. Since I was subscribing to the service in order to keep track of a relative with significant memory issues, the GPS feature seemed ideal, and I chose XYZ. At first things went well. When we pressed the device’s button, a pleasant operator immediately answered and was very helpful.
As the administrator I could invite other family members to have online access enabling them to also keep track of the device. I should have seen the red flag when most of the invitation emails were trapped in email black lists such that the invitations not only bypassed the in-box, but also the junk mail folder. No matter, I was still able to keep track.
Then we noticed that the website was down. When we called, we were told we couldn't track our relative at that time, and neither could they. Oh well, outages happen. XYZ was working on it.
Five days after we first noticed the outage, our relative went missing. The website still did not work. XYZ was still unable to track her directly. Family members fanned out, checking stores, hairdressers, and doctors. Eventually she was discovered in an emergency room. XYZ’s product failed (dramatically and traumatically) the first time it was needed, about two months after it was purchased.
XYZ’s first response when I called to seek a refund and cancellation of the service was to doubt my word. When they grudgingly accepted the possibility of a product failure, the smiling voice on the other end of the line offered the courtesy of canceling the service. When I inquired why there would be no refund for a product that did not work, I was told it was not possible because they were already deviating from company policy by letting me cancel the contract early. After escalating the matter to a supervisor, the best I was offered was to waive the current month’s bill. Oh, and I’d have to ship the pendant back to them. So XYZ, you’ve earned your F.
When your customers have a reason to tell their friends about your company, give them a good reason to tell it.