You Can Burn My Lasagna but Don’t Mess with My Family Time

Are you a complainer or a go with the flow-er?  How do you feel about the saying, “squeaky wheel gets the grease”?  Is it more important for you to make your point/get your way, or to move on and enjoy your experience without losing another precious moment?  Do you feel that as the customer you are always right, or do you look beyond yourself and want what’s best for everyone?  We received a letter today from Tom who sold us the new Dodge truck and now I have customer service on my mind.

Myself, I despise the “squeaky wheel” mentality and in my many years of customer service, found that the only people who practiced it were the ones concerned only with themselves, wanted something for nothing, and were prepared to get what they wanted whether it was fair and deserved or not.  Pretty laid back, I would say I am a go with the flow-er.  Or at least I used to be.

I am still easy going except when it comes to special time with my family, such as summer vacation.  No, I don’t suddenly become an unpleasant consumer, but I do seem to desire better quality service and products.  I guess the reason is that these times together as a family, away from work, and bills, and responsibilities are so rare and cherished that I cannot tolerate wastefulness.

Even so, I find “complaining” to be useless.  In my customer service experience I was always the one with “the power.”  If you were unhappy it was my job to make you happy.  You wanted free merchandise, cash back or even a hug, I had the power to hand it out on the spot.  Do you know who NEVER got what they wanted?  Squeaky wheels and rude complainers.  I could count on one hand the number of people who did not walk away from me smiling and I rarely had to give away the farm to do it.  As a consumer I walk the same walk.

That said, ain’t no glory in being a door mat either.  If someone delivers bad service, let them know how they could serve you better.  Delivery is the key here.  If you’re a jerk, your “suggestions” will not be well received.  But if you can truly accept the fact that no one MEANT to deliver your entree late or give you the wrong product, your delivery will be sincere and well received.  Everybody’s happy!

We were in Cedar Point a couple of years ago and our room was really shabby.  Clearly, someone did not take much pride in their work.  In addition, our key cards didn’t work.  It took some 15 swipes for the strip to take each time.  When I went to the front desk to discuss it with someone there was somebody else there throwing a hissy fit because her key didn’t work.  The agent was trying to calm her, making her a new card, and apologizing.  The customer continued ranting that she wanted her money back and she wanted to talk to the manager. She was told that the agent was the manager and they don’t give refunds.

I was at the other end of the counter with another agent.  I laughed with her, told her about my room and the key frustrations and asked if there was anything she could think of to turn things around for us.  She said, “You bet!”  She excused herself for a minute and returned with a new key to a different room and a voucher for dinner at the restaurant onsite which was delicious.  I was thrilled.  I didn’t want more than what I deserved, I just wanted to enjoy my time with my family.   Two weeks after we returned home, we received an apology from the hotel and a voucher for a free hotel night next time we’re in town.   We were so surprised.  It was completely over and above what was expected and also what was received by the complainer from the same night.

Now that is an extreme example of the kind wheel getting the grease and it won’t always work out your way.  There are bad customer service agents out there just like there are bad customers.  But trust me, my favorable results have far surpassed the negative.  And doesn’t it just feel better to walk around nice than squeaky?

What are your best/worst  customer service experiences?  I’d love to hear tales from both sides!

Prices Down, Customer Service Up?

The housing market is not the only place we are seeing prices slashed.  With consumer’s purse strings so tight and competition for our money so thick, businesses are being forced to find ways to stand out from the crowd.

We recently went vehicle shopping.  I got my super duper Jeep Cherokee for a song in December.  It was a 2008 model and had all kinds of rebates on top of Hubby’s Chrysler employee discount.  But with Hubby’s truck lease ending in March we were starting to sweat.  If you have shopped for a truck lately you will know that prices and payments are HIGH!  We were having sticker shock going from lease pricing to purchase pricing to begin with, but with everything compatible to what Hubs had before being priced at $40,000 and higher we just did not see how we could buy another Big Ram so my dear hunting/gathering/hauling husband was preparing for life with what he could afford, a car instead of a truck.

But guess what!  March is TRUCK month at Chrysler! We just got that same $40,000 truck for $27,000.  How amazing is that?  I will tell you how amazing it is… the payment is almost HALF of what we were quoted in January!  Hot diggety!  Why?  There is a lot of competition out there so car manufacturers have to be competitive.  So if a Big Ram is your cup of tea, NOW is the time to buy!

Not car shopping?  How about eating?  Last week we went to our neighborhood Applebees.  We have been there a zillion times.  But the service this time was on a whole different level.  Not that it was bad before, but our server and the manager were so attentive and made sure we had whatever we needed at all times.  Our iced tea never went dry.  Our chips never ran out.  We felt like VIPs.  I would think it’s more difficult to cut prices at a restaurant and compete that way, so I have to think that Applebees, and anyone else who is smart, knows that customer service is the way to win people over right now so that they see additional value in spending their money on dinner out.

We also just changed our insurance policies.  When is the last time you shopped around for term life insurance rates?  Or car insurance?  Cutting back on luxuries and clipping coupons is a good place to start finding extra money in your wallet, but with a few phone calls or internet browsing you might find better prices on everything from insurance to phone service.

Dropping prices in this economy is not any big shocker, but the positive change in customer service is a nice treat.  Has anyone else noticed receiving better treatment at the businesses they frequent?  And how much of an effect does service have on your decision where to spend your hard earned money?

Here’s Your Sign

I believe the majority of conflict could be avoided with better communication. We should all come with our own digital signage. Wouldn’t that be cool?

Have you ever been in a situation when you were so irritated by someone one minute but then given a little more information your feelings of frustration are replaced by patience and understanding?

Take eating out for instance. You pay a good price for it, you are likely there because you need a break, so receiving poor service is not acceptable. Is it? I was at a restaurant up north with my family and we waited a very long time for someone to take our order. When the order came it was wrong. Then it was wrong again. We are pretty patient and didn’t complain but we were upset, even though we chose to keep it among ourselves. It wasn’t long before a man came out from the kitchen to ask how my eggs were. Truthfully they were worse than the first ones I had sent back.

Let me just say here that I NEVER send food back or complain about much of anything so this tells you how bad this breakfast experience was.

So anyway, the man asked how were the eggs. He was so nice and genuinely concerned all I could say is, “much better.” He then went on to explain how all of his staff had called in either sick or snowed in so his 15 year old daughter was waiting tables AND cooking for him. I looked around and it all started to settle in that I hadn’t seen any other waitresses. That one little girl was hustling to take care of all these customers who were complaining about the slow, bad service they were receiving.

Only now, armed with the full story, I suddenly was happy with my service and impressed what a good job the Daughter Daddy duo was doing under the circumstances. Everyone at my table started laughing and chatting and enjoying their meal that they were only minutes ago disappointed with.

Isn’t that crazy? Just a little information totally changed our attitudes. Imagine how much more understanding and kind that people would be if they had a better understanding of the various situations they find themselves in. I bet road rage would go down too! If only we could all have our own digital signage.

What would your sign say?