During a holiday recently, I was going through some old sales and marketing tapes. Handling customer complaints was very much front of mind because some of my clients had been asking about it.
I came across this classic story on customer service and I want to share it with you.
Years ago, an American Sales Consultant frequently travelled to different cities to teach sales teams in different companies.
“Let’s call him Mr J for the story.”
One day when he got off the plane, he couldn’t find his luggage. He had all of his seminar notes, materials and clothes in this suitcase.
Can you imagine the dismay, frustration and anger he felt at the time?
Taking the First Step Towards Resolving Customer Complaints
The airline staff said to him: “Mr J, I understand how frustrated you must be. Please leave your contact details with me so I can inform you as soon as we find out the whereabouts of your luggage.”
The next morning he received a phone call telling him that his suitcase had been found and it will be delivered to his hotel room.
The suitcase arrive with a note.
“We are very sorry about the incident. Thank you for your patience. We’d like to offer you a complimentary flight to any city of your choice for your next trip as our sincere apology. We value your business and hope you will continue to fly with us in the future.”
Make it an Issue. Make a Fuss
That’s not the end of our story: it continues…
When he checked into his return flight, the airline staff made a big fuss about this incident.
“Mr J, I’m so sorry about your missing luggage two days ago. May I offer you a free upgrade to our business class seating?”
Mr. J started to feel pretty important.
The next time when he checked in for his flight, guess what happened?
The airline staff looked at the computer screen, said “Aah Mr J, I see we lost your luggage 2 months ago when you travelled with us. I’m so sorry about that. May I offer you priority seating today?”
Mr J was surprised but pleased about this attention and special treatment.
This continued for about a year. Each time when he travelled, his missing luggage incident got a mention, an apology and special attention.
Mr J was so impressed about the customer service of this airline that he told this story to every audience he ran his sales seminars for.
What is Customer Service Excellence?
He said: “It’s great if you provide good customer service. But if you can turn an unhappy customer into your raving fan; that’s true ‘Customer Service Excellence’.”
Did you know that research indicates that the average satisfied customer tells 3 people about their experience but the average dissatisfied customer gripes to 11 other people.
Negative word-of-mouth advertising is a problem few businesses can afford.
It’s a reality that you will have to deal with dissatisfied customers from time to time. Sometimes the customer is justified in his complaints. Other times he is not; but how you handle dissatisfied customer can have far reaching impact on your business.
So what can you do, when you’re faced with a complaining customer?
Download the Cafe Coach: 5 Steps For Managing the Complaining Customer poster and make sure everyone in your team knows what to do.
One of the advantages you have to best your competitors and the big coffee chain stores is “Providing Excellent Customer Service”.