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Customer Dispute- It wasn't meeee!

Posted by Renee Welsh on 05-Dec-2013 00:53:56

shutterstock_153385199Customer dispute tips.

How many of us actually care which staff member is responsible for a minor mistake? Surely there are bigger things to focus on. We just want the mistake corrected immediately.

I was witness to an appalling attempt at resolving a customer dispute yesterday. In this instance what should have taken 2 minutes to resolve took 10 minutes and impacted a number of other customers. What’s worse is that it was something as simple as a food/drink order mix up in a food court; one expects this to be a simple task.

So I’m standing in line waiting for my meal to be made. I knew there was one order in front of me that had just been called out. We’ll call this customer Harold for the purpose of this story. Harold goes to collect his order only to find that one item is missing. So he alerts the staff member, who happens to be the supervisor. Now here is where poor Harold’s experience takes a turn for the worse. The supervisor apologises (so far so good) for the mistake one of his employees has made and then proceeds to ask each individual working there who took the order and if they remember what it was. Once the manager finds the person responsible he then starts berating her in front of everyone. Do I need to point out how uncomfortable this has made Harold? All he wants is his order and now he feels responsible for the trouble he has caused the poor girl. Not only has Harold had a bad experience, but everyone who was there waiting has as well.

How could the supervisor have worked this mistake to his advantage?

  1. Apologise – Acknowledge that there was a mistake. Guess what? Customers understand that small mistakes like this can happen.
  2. Resolve the issue immediately – Make the order right then and there without the police procedural. That can wait until later.
  3. Apologise again and give a coupon for a free item – Reinforce the apology for the mistake to show that you are genuine in your actions. This is an excellent strategy for creating customer loyalty. Harold would be more likely to return multiple times and recommend the place to his work colleagues.

The humiliation of the employee in front of both work colleagues and customers, was not only an appalling display of customer service, it promotes a bad company image and is an extremely acute case of poor management skills. Any employee discipline needs to be done behind closed doors and with the necessary respect any human deserves. I have been a supervisor in the hotel industry and I would have never dared berate someone in the middle of the hotel lobby.

When you have a customer complaint, deal with it immediately and professionally. Customers don’t want excuses made, nor do they, or should they witness employer-employee disagreements. In the wise words of Sweet Brown in the viral video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udS-OcNtSWo, “Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!”

Topics: Blog

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