Great (and not so great) Customer Service

In business - as in life - situations arise and the outcome is based on how you react to them. I had the opportunity to witness two extremes of customer service, and thought they were interesting to compare.

This Spa Wasn't Relaxing

For a couple of years I frequented a spa on the coast near Santa Barbara. It was a small place, with a few nice treatments. The owner seemed like she was interested in her clients' opinions, as evidenced by a survey she sent out (via email) asking for comments and recommendations for additional treatments. Anyone who replied would receive $25 toward services.

I filled out the survey, taking about 30 minutes to do so, and put some real thought into it. After all, they were giving me $25, and I felt I should earn it.

Imagine my surprise when I called to book an appointment and learned the $25 gift certificate had to be used within one week of the survey's email date. In the space of one minute I went from warm and fuzzy feelings toward the spa to feeling taken advantage of. Instead of listening, the owner talked over me, insisting that the "use by" date was in the email (it was - in teensy 7-point type at the bottom) and that it was my job to read it.

Her attitude practically shouted that she had no interest in keeping me as a client, and remains one of the worst customer service experiences I've ever had. Not only will I never do business with this place again, but I tell my friends who not to see when they need a massage.

Lesson learned for my company: Be kind. Listen. You don't have to be right all the time.

On The Other Hand...

When we were in Hawaii on vacation not too long ago, my daughter Lauren bought a cute sterling silver toe ring. While she admired her newly decorated digit, I read the guarantee on the receipt. If the toe ring ever broke, Lauren could return it with the receipt and the company would send her a new ring.

Obviously Toe Jamz believes in its product and stands behind it, but honestly, who breaks toe rings?

Turns out Lauren does.

Of course, by the time she broke it she had also lost the receipt. Nevertheless, she packed the broken parts in an envelope with a note of explanation.

Ten days later a brand-new toe ring arrived with a note from the company president, who hoped Lauren would enjoy wearing the ring.

Now that's great customer service. Toe Jamz not only upheld its guarantee - without a receipt - but included a personal letter from the president of the company.

Lesson learned here for my company: be flexible. Listen to your customer. Even though you may be right, you'll probably have a customer for life if you accommodate them. Toe Jamz does.

Can you beat either of these stories? Good or bad, let us hear it.

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