I work in an industry where customer service is paramount. All my working life, the importance of good customer service has been rammed down my throat. Not that I’m complaining and I always go the extra mile to give good customer service in my daily work life because I happen to think it is extremely important.
However, out in the real world, my experience is that poor customer service outweighs the good. In fact I can only recall one instance, when I complained, that I was pleased with the outcome.
It was many years ago when I booked a restaurant for a family occasion. There were six of us and my dad’s starter was accompanied with some brown bread and butter. As my dad picked up the bread to eat, he noticed a small piece of mould. We didn’t make a scene but did ask to see the manager, who was horrified and asked us to have a round of drinks on the house while he found out what went wrong. He returned with an explanation (and a new starter for my dad). Since we had been given free drinks and a satisfactory explanation as to why they unfortunately served mouldy bread, we were quite happy and continued to have a lovely evening. After all, it was only a tiny bit of mould, there wasn’t actually anything moving around! However upon receiving our bill we had been given a considerable discount and the manager met us at the door as we were leaving to, again, apologise most profusely. Now, obviously something went wrong which shouldn’t have but mistakes do happen and I felt that we had been more than compensated and the restaurant demonstrated good customer service. I have been back to that restaurant on many occasions since without further incident.
That is my only experience of good customer service so, when the power steering failed on my BMW and I was told it would cost £1800 to fix, my heart sank. My car is coming up five years old (out of warranty) but has only done 23k miles. My husband, who is not shy to have a rant, felt that for the mileage on the car I should not have experienced this problem. So, he proceeded to tell this to the receptionist at the garage (in the nicest possible way!). To her credit, she said she would phone BMW for us. As we left the garage I thought “nothing ventured nothing gained” but, given past experience, wasn’t expecting to have a good outcome and had prepared myself for the hefty bill. However, when my husband came home from work he told me that BMW had agreed to pay 70% of the cost of the parts meaning that I would now only require to pay £760 being 30% parts and labour. I was absolutely delighted! Over £1000 off my bill.
BMW didn’t have to do that. They could quite rightly have said the car is out of warranty, end of. However, they obviously have a customer service culture. £1000 is nothing to them but in terms of what they will get in return for that small amount (me blogging about it! and probably buying another car from them in the future, versus me bad mouthing them and going somewhere else if they hadn’t stumped up) it was probably worth it to them.
And that’s where I think a lot of companies go wrong. They don’t really know what good customer service is. We’re not looking for the earth, moon and stars, just appreciation for the fact that we’ve decided to invest our hard earned money in their company and a little common sense when things don’t quite come up to the mark. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve bought something and later gone back to return it only to be hit with the “we only give a credit note” statement. Why? Do they do that to tie you down into having to buy SOMETHING from them. In reality, yes, I will use the credit note but you have just put me off coming back EVER again. If you let me return it and give me back my money I will shop with you again and again and again. Simple!
BMW have renewed my faith that customer service is not dead and buried. If I can afford it, I shall certainly buy from them again in the future. Companies take note, what is a relatively small amount to you as a business, can buy you heaps of good press and continued business. Think on!