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Service is Dead II

Last year about this time, we wrote a Monday Huddle Up on the theory that customer service in our country is on a steep decline. We had been through several events in a week’s time that compelled us to write on the subject. This past week, another series of curious things popped up that drove us to revisit this challenging topic.


Here are two of the events that took place…..


  • While on a family “staycation” in Arizona, my wife Sharon and I went to the local outlet mall near our hotel. While purchasing a gift for our son Brock, the cashier ringing up the sale asked if we wanted a reusable bag. We said, “Sure.” When the bill came, it seemed high. As we reviewed the receipt, there was a charge for said bag as an add on. The cashier never disclosed that there was an additional fee if we opted in on the reusable bag, he just tried to sweep it under the rug. Once we discovered this added charge, we asked for it to be refunded, which took several minutes and was quite annoying. If it wasn’t a gift that we knew our son wanted, we may have even returned that too. The cashier could have explained the added charge up front and avoided any hassle.


  • Earlier in the same week while I was out of town with our son and my wife was home alone in Phoenix, the power company showed up unannounced at 9:30 PM and raised a crane over our house. All while shining bright lights into our bedroom and master bathroom. When my wife went outside to ask them what they were doing they said they had a work order to replace a powerline and the pole it was attached too. They were quite dismissive of Sharon and her concerns that this was going on overnight. In the end, they worked (loudly) until after 4 AM the next day. When we contacted the power company, they admitted the permit that was approved for the job was on the next street over, not ours. They also never notified anyone on our street that this work was going to happen. While the City of Phoenix who approved the permit was quite apologetic, the power company did nothing about it other than to offer us $50 off our next bill for our trouble. One would think intruding on our property unannounced and shining lights into our home overnight is worth a bit more than fifty bucks.


So what could have been done in these two instances? How about these suggestions…..


  • The cashier could have said up front that there was an added charge for the reusable bag, or we could just have a normal plastic bag.


  • On the power pole dilemma, the workers could have disclosed who they were, showed their permit, and apologized for the inconvenience. The customer service agent on the phone should have been able to do something more than offer a nominal bill discount for the massive intrusion.


Here are two real life examples that you can borrow from when customer service challenges arise, and we all know they will surface…..


  • When we were running the Phoenix Sports Commission, our event service team knew that for any issue that popped up that could be solved for under $300, do it. No need for approvals, just make it right and we can talk about the situation later. This streamlined how we supported event owners and made our internal communications a lot simpler.


  • When Sharon was in the restaurant marketing industry, the host stand at one of their busier establishments mistakenly overlooked a family on the wait list. So much so, that they waited for long enough that they gave up and decided to go to an adjoining eatery. When did the manager on duty do when she heard what had happened? She went to the other restaurant, apologized, paid their bill, and gave them a gift card for their next visit back at the original location. Now THAT is customer service.


Put the customer first. Empower your people to make things right. Help restore confidence in the way we serve others.


Have a great week of spectacular service!


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