Thursday, July 2, 2009

It’s not what goes wrong; it’s how you fix it

We spend lots of time thinking about small businesses – our own included. And we think a lot of about what constitutes great customer service. At Admiral Road we’ve always strived for and prided ourselves on excellent customer service. Interestingly, a few of our best customer experiences have been born out of error.

Anyone who has ever been responsible for a lot of moving parts knows that inevitably something, sometime is going to go wrong. We’re human and occasionally we make mistakes. In the event that this happens, we try our very best to do everything possible to help our customer and fix the situation. Invariably, our customers are surprised and grateful to be treated decently and fairly – a testament to the sorry state of customer service in general, I think. It seems so many companies have a ‘you’re on your own’ attitude. Who wants to be treated like that, especially when you’ve paid for a product or service? We just don’t understand it.

Every now and then, though, a company will restore your faith. Last Christmas, I had a great customer service experience – and it all started when a company really screwed up.

My husband, an avid cyclist, had been pining for a particular pair of bike shorts. I scouted them out and ordered them from a local bike shop. It was extremely busy at Admiral Road and I had no time to go pick up the shorts. I called to ask that the shorts be held for me until I could come and collect them. I had a bad feeling about it and actually made the guy on the phone promise me to hold them. When I eventually went to collect the shorts they were nowhere to be found. They had been sold and were out of stock.

I was beside myself. But I also really felt for the bike shop owner who was just trying to deal with his busy season. The owner promptly offered to re-order the shorts. I didn’t want to have to go back to the bike store, so the owner delivered them to my house himself a few days later. Also, the shorts I had ordered were no longer available, so they gave me even fancier shorts at the same price.

As a business owner I know that this transaction resulted in a lot of work with no profit for the store. However, I also know that I will shop there for years to come because of how they fixed the problem. We all just want to be treated fairly – it makes all the difference. Every company makes mistakes - but they are defined by how they handle them.

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