What to do When the Point of Service Fails

Another name for a customer service representative is simply: Fixer.  Our job centers around fixing customer problems.  Sometimes they are problems with the product, or the website, or a return.  But other times, they are problems customers have experienced at the point of sale or service.  It is our duty to handle these situations with grace and good cheer.  But what does that look like?

When Amanda decided to hire a startup company to deliver some new items for her, she had some doubts about trusting that everything would run smoothly.  So when the company alerted her that her movers were scheduled to arrive an hour and a half after the guaranteed time window (which was also an hour and a half after the store closed), she was not too happy.  Turning back to her app, she couldn’t easily find a contact number.  Increasingly unhappy, she hunted down the website and sent an email, assuming she’d hear back in a day or two.

This is where the story takes a turn for the better.  Within an hour, Amanda heard back via text from the company’s service department.  Not only did they apologize for missing their promised time, they offered to reschedule the pickup and had already pre-loaded her account with a $25 credit for her hassle and disappointment.  Additionally, Amanda also received an email detailing the same information.  Surprised by both the promptness and quality of service, Amanda immediately re-booked her request.  Despite a point of service failure, customer service expertly stepped in to salvage this fledgling customer relationship.

In a more established company’s failure, Steven had a rather frustrating experience.  He’d decided to grab a burger on his way to an event.  Jumping into the drive thru line, he figured he’d be on his way in a few minutes.  Instead, he waited for over 15 minutes.  He was prevented from leaving because he’d already paid for the food that had not been handed over.   After finally receiving his order, he sped off, now 10 minutes late for his event.  A few stoplights down, as he was hurriedly eating his food, it dawned on him that he had also been given the wrong order (one that was cheaper than what he had paid for).

Now fuming, he tracked down the customer service number for the company and spoke with Ray.  Grouchily telling Ray what had happened, he was met with total understanding.  Ray agreed that his experience had been terrible and very far from company standards.  But instead of relying on the halfhearted industry norm of offering a coupon for a future visit, Ray invested some legwork into the solution.  He asked Steven for the store number from his receipt and the last four digits from his credit card used to pay.  Pulling up the transaction, Ray immediately processed a full refund.  He then took Steven’s information for the site manager to reach out to him, and arranged to mail gift cards, not coupons, for Steven to use in the future.  Ray’s aggressive approach to righting Steven’s poor experience is the only thing that retained Steven as a future customer.

Both of these cases illustrate customer service at its finest: the representatives did not hesitate to boldly work to salvage the customer relationships.  They didn’t burden the customers with red tape before deciding how to fix the problems.  They didn’t offer insultingly small tokens of apology.  They treated their customers like both they and their business mattered, and prevented the loss of those relationships.  It takes a lot of time and money to convert a new contact into a customer and having exceptional service, even when disaster strikes, is key to their retention.

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