Many arrows miss their intended target, symbolizing a goal not achieved

Well this is interesting. Over the course of writing this blog in the last four years, there have been a few occasions where businesses have responded to posts, whether they were good or bad. I love hearing from a business to get their side of the story. Maybe the customer remembered things incorrectly or had emotion blind their description of the event? Who knows, but it’s always more balanced to hear from both sides. A few months ago, Kris Constable guest posted about his experience at Victoria, BC’s XS Cargo store. You can read the full story at the link but the long story short is that he had tried to return a camera and his interaction with the manager didn’t go very well.

What’s really vital to any customer service experience is the response from the businesses when things go bad. Do they respond? How do they respond? Well, XS Cargo did respond, twice – first in the comments to the blog and then through an email. With permission from Kris, here’s both exchanges.

The Blog

The Good: It’s great that Steve Starkey (the manager mentioned in the blog) was willing to engage on this topic. Customers want to know they are being listened to and it gives the business a few opportunities – to right a wrong with the customer, to be made aware of something in their business process that they could fix, to correct misinformation or to fill out the bigger picture of the situation for the reader. Steve went with the last choice. It was good to get a bit of background on store policy and his view of events. I also liked that he admitted to losing his temper and apologized for it. It’s important to admit mistakes, which will usually reassure the affected customer and go a long way to helping your case.

The Bad: Oh Steve, where to start. Sorry, I’m going to have to break it down…

Customer service response

1)   “I didn’t respond on behalf of the company” – sorry Steve, you are. He has identified himself as the manager of the store and responded accordingly. Even if his boss or bosses didn’t tell him to respond, he is speaking as management. Anyone reading this will see it that way. Perception is king.

2)   Defensive and offensive isn’t the right approach. Steve came off with an almost too personal of a tone, rather than a professional one. Did he really need to add: “After the customer left, I had numerous customers tell me how belligerent she was and they would have blown up at her as well.” If that is true (and I’m not saying it isn’t), it seems like a petty shot.

3)   Timeliness. As I mentioned in my response to Steve, his response came over two months after the blog was posted. Which, at that time, engaged with @XS_Cargo on Twitter. So the company was aware. If it took that long to get back to Steve, there’s an internal customer service communications issue.

4)   Assumptions – sorry again, Steve. Kris is a boy. I know my guest bloggers pretty well, usually people I’ve met or have a long online relationship with. To fight me on his gender, even going so far as to say to me “Just because the person has the name Kris don’t assume it’s a man” (hilarious by the way) puts your whole memory of events into question.

customer service

The E-Mail

Below, received by Kris and with his permission (and the fact I was CC’ed on his response to the company), is the email recently received from XS Cargo regarding this issue:

Hello, 

I see that Melanie tried reaching out to you to apologize for your experience with us (Victoria Store) as i was on holidays.

I have also reached out to Steve, who see’s the series of events differently, however has owned the reality that you are a displeased customer and that we need to work smarter to ensure that communication is clear and that we pride ourselves on professionalism and customer service.

I am of course discouraged to see such a negative ad online. I will work diligently to make sure all of my Managers are meeting my expectations, and would hope for the opportunity to serve you again.

If you have any other thoughts you can reach me at 778-989-5491, or reply by email.

Have a great day.

Joe

Again, I’m thrilled to see a company getting back to its customers about their bad experience. Too many organizations will just ignore the bad reviews and only respond to the good (Read my recent blog on that) ones. Unfortunately, there’s a few things that “Joe” could have done better.

1)    Um, who are you Joe? No last name. No title. No position of authority. Do you even work for XS Cargo? When responding to anyone, it has to be coming from a place of authority and knowledge, neither of which are represented here with a simple first name.

2)    Who’s Melanie? I asked Kris and he had never heard that name before. It could possibly have been the person behind the XS Cargo Twitter account but we’re guessing. And that was two months ago. And you were on holidays, unable to respond…for two months? Nice vacation time.

3)    “Negative Ad online”? Unfortunately this highlights your or your organization’s lack of understanding of online communications. As many people (ie your customers) get their information and engage on these platforms, it’s probably an area you may want to educate yourself around. It’ll only help your business. FYI – Ads are paid advertisments, which can be done by individuals or organizations. This was a guest blog on a website. No money changed hands. Just a couple of emails.

4)    Check your grammar. Nothing will hurt your case more or chip away at your authority like not knowing when to capitalize an “I” or include a comma. Just sayin’.

Responding to your customers’ concerns and complaints is a great way to show you care. But it’s also really important to understand how you’re responding. There is a huge amount of value and customer service brownie points when you show respect, professionalism, and a willingness to engage. (And don’t aim for best two out of three)

 

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Like that? Check these:

  • http://twitter.com/RodDeacon Rod Deacon

    Fifty Shades of Meh, I say…Might have turned out better for all concerned if there was a little less ‘reaching out’ months after the fact and a heckuva lot more ‘bending over backwards’ at the time of the retail exchange. This isn’t customer service; it’s service with a shrug…with a boatload of ‘own the reality’ jargon thrown in, with a twist of gender-ID b.s.

  • Hirondelle Violette

    FYI your link to “guest posted” in the first paragraph actually directs to an email client, not the page you’ve referenced.

  • http://www.theupsell.com/ Russel Lolacher

    Hi Hirondelle,
    Thanks for the catch! It’s been addressed. Much appreciated.