I believe that sometimes companies need to step onto the other side of the counter and view themselves from the customer’s standpoint. I don’t intend to post non-Dynamics GP related things very often but today I had the good fortune of having three incidents worth talking about – two on the negative side, one on the positive side.
The background to my little story is I recently bought a new house – built in the 1950’s – and one of the first changes was putting in a new furnace, air conditioner and hot water heater, powered by natural gas. Yesterday the HVAC install crew was here busy at work all day long, and at the end of the day I get a call from the production manager. Bad news: the gas company doesn’t have a record of our install therefore we will not have gas service today, they will accommodate us on Tuesday. Now it’s November 15th in Canada – fortunately it is staying at +5 Celsius overnight. Having no heat since it was turned off early yesterday morning and no hot water to shower with this morning was quite a drag but life goes on…
Customer service story #1
Fast forward to today. This morning I woke up, the house is cold, I’d love to have warmed up with a hot shower but that will have to wait. I make myself a big “to go” mug of tea and head out for breakfast, looking forward to sitting in one of my favourite breakfast joints in Burlington, in heat! I walked into the restaurant, it’s a family style restaurant, simple good food, no frills kind of place. I am half asleep still, found and sat at an empty table. Nearly immediately a waitress came over to me, no so much as a “hello” then greeted me with “He wants you to remove that from the restaurant” pointing to my mug of hot tea. So, I picked up my things, took my mug and left to put it back in my car, drinking what I could of it before returning for breakfast. I was annoyed, I was tired, and if I wasn’t so tired I would have gone elsewhere.
The lesson I take from this is phrasing is everything when delivering bad news to a client. Had she apologized to me for the bother, explained why it was such a big deal, or simply been a little less curt with her delivery of the message, I would have not minded and not been annoyed. You have options when dealing with clients, and there are many ways to deliver a message. Next time you have to deliver less than good news, think about how to phrase it. I will think twice before returning another time to this restaurant and it all could have been handled much nicer without possibly losing a regular customer.
Customer service story #2
Same day, funny how these things happen in bunches! I was out for lunch today – and for those keeping track, still no gas hookup, no shower, no heat, no hot water. I went to a very busy local specialty grocery store, that happens to have a small eat-in restaurant cafeteria style in it. It’s always packed, the food is good, the prices are very reasonable but the customer service is, well, less than stellar. The procedure is you line up, grab a tray, and someone behind the counter takes your order. The challenge typically is, in an effort to be highly efficient and quickly serve people, you are placing your order before you get to the part of the line where you can see the choices of the day. I’ve often wanted to wait to see what’s there but usually default to my favourite because of this setup.
So today was a similar day to what I’ve witnessed in the past. I had just placed my order, I am not yet in front of the counter where you can see the food choices so I am peeking over others shoulders to see. The lady behind me, perhaps in her 70’s, was asked what she would like to order. She explained she couldn’t see what there was to make up her mind yet. She was basically asking for a little more time. The counter person though, in an apparent rush to keep the orders coming, spoke to the four of us ahead of this lady “you all have ordered, move out of the way so this lady can see the food”. One lady in front of me actually hadn’t ordered yet (was still deciding) and the long story short is we were all taken aback at the directive to move. Once again, wording is everything. This could have easily been phrased in a way that we gladly would have parted the line. The counter person also could have taken a step back and relaxed a bit – giving the line a little time to move on its own accord before re-asking for this lady’s order.
The lesson I learned here, similar to the first, is what what you say but also ask yourself what the urgency is? Rushing clients through a decision is not wise most times, it will often result in a poorly made decision or one that gets changed. Let the decision come to you when the client is ready.
Customer service story #3
Last one of the day – ending on a positive note! Now that the HVAC guys are nearly done their work on our house, and the gas guys have come and given the thumbs up to power everything on, both the salesperson we purchased the system from and the production manager came to the house to check on the work of their crew. Both asked me if everything was going ok, if I was satisfied with the quality of the work done so far. The production manager also apologized again for the gas install date mishap, but this time getting the apology in person instead of over the phone was nice. The sales guy was happy to see we were happy – so he wasn’t going to get any angry phone calls from something he didn’t know about.
The lesson I learned here is follow up with your clients, get their feedback on how you did or how your staff did in their last encounter with the client. If something went wrong, you likely will hear about it. If something made the client unhappy but not serious enough to complain, you may never know. If you don’t take 5 minutes to follow up and ask about their experience, you may never know and there may be bad feedback out there you don’t know about.