The Little Things that Serve #1

Summary:About a week ago I wrote a post called "The Little Things That Serve."  I mentioned that I wanted to start an ongoing series where any of you who want to write in could tell me customer service stories and then give me your idea on the best or worst practices derived from the experience and what the company that was involved could have done better.

About a week ago I wrote a post called "The Little Things That Serve."  I mentioned that I wanted to start an ongoing series where any of you who want to write in could tell me customer service stories and then give me your idea on the best or worst practices derived from the experience and what the company that was involved could have done better. Then a rating and how well or poorly it met your expectations.

The idea is straightforward. The little things that happen (and not so little) impact our relationships with companies that we deal with either over a long period of time or intermittently or even once.  But we can learn from those little things both good or bad. There is a possible repeatable or a possible never-should-be-repeated practice that was involved in that experience you had.  Plus there was something specific the company might have done that could have improved even a great experience.  If you tell the stories, we can all learn from them as can the companies who I would hope would read them.

So, here is the first in the series. Five of the initial group that tell varying kinds of stories in varying kinds of industries from different people with different perspectives on life as a customer.  I hope that you'll submit your own stories. I'll be setting up a survey that I'll run on Facebook and here regularly for you to submit. I have a couple of dozen or so to start as of now but need a lot more.  Please let me know what your stories are too.  The survey will follow at the end of this post.

Welcome to "The Little Things That Serve"

McDonald's (submitted by @iLoveGarick)

The Category

Restaurant

The Story

In playing the McDonald's Monopoly game, my local franchise told me that the coupon for "Any large sandwich" was limited to a Quarter Pounder with Cheese or a Big N' Tasty.  What? That doesn't seem right.. why can't I have one of those Angus burgers? What are these bait & switch shennanigans? It seems that "any large sandwich" had been limited to the two of the lower-tier burgers. This is before I learned to always take things back-channel and sheepishly, I admit that I tweeted out my discontent to the public. (these days, I realize that others don't really care so much about social justice and I end up just looking like a Debbie downer)    I'd like to give credit to Katie Holland for quickly addressing my issues, moving the conversation to email to hear what had happened and then offering to send me a few coupons for the Angus burger. To go even FURTHER beyond just taking care of your customer, Katie followed up to make sure that everything was ok and that's how we started engaging. Now, I realize that McDonald's is not health food. Heck, I'm not even sure if it's really food. I will say that it's a symbol of earlier childhood days and a brand that is warm and comforting. Either way; yes, I've become a fan and supporter. I was quite happy to publicly tweet about the #McRib and a lot of my friends actually went out to get one after hearing me go on and on about them.

Best Practice (or Worst Practice) Derived From This

Customer Service is more than simply responding to a complaint. It goes even further to connect with your customer, thus turning them into super-fans.

What Could Have Made This Even Better...Or Fixed It

I appreciate the corporate headquarters for hearing and addressing my concerns; it would have been great to also receive a follow-up and/or apology from the manager of this particular branch that I had difficulties with.

Rating and Expectations

9/10 Great

I expected it to be good and it exceeded my expectations.

Hertz (submitted by Narain C.)

The Category

Auto Rental

The Story

I rented a car thru Hertz website in 2006, when I arrived at Herz office to pick up my car in Paris. The staff demanded me (not asked) to show the local driving license (I am from Thailand), in addition to my international driving license. I asked for their reason but they just kept saying it was rule. I told them on their website when I booked car, no mention at all about local driving license, except the international one. I showed the web print-out to them, still they kept saying it was a rule. It went a couple times with same arguments, finally, I decided to raise my tone & volume and demanded to see the manager.  At the end, they were OK to let me have my car without local driving license. But it took me almost 2 hours to just get the car.

Best Practice (Or Worst Practice) Derived From This

Rules are not the law (even law can be amended), employee should not be trained to just follow the rule written. They should be more empowered and able to use their brain & heart to think & solve the problem, especially the customer facing activity.

What Could Have Made This Even Better...Or Fixed It?

Global rules (in this case, what Hertz state in its website) should override local rules (in this case, Hertz Paris branch), this must be the rule of the rule.

Rating and Expectations

1/10 Horrible

I expected it to be good and it failed to meet my expectations (was bad)

United/Continental Airlines (submitted by MJ Crabbe-Barberis)

The Category

Airlines

The Story

United's first day using Continental's Ticketing System  On a recent Sunday I had the misfortune to be at Heathrow Airport returning to the U.S. on United.  This happened to be THE DAY that United converted to Continental's Ticketing System.  I arrived bright and early unaware that this was conversion day.  I was greeted by several people who told me that they were changing systems that day and they they had some problems so they were doing hand written boarding passes.  No issues.  I approached the ticket agent and handed over my passport.  She scanned a printout of the passenger list for my flight and wrote up my boarding pass.  When I reviewed it, I saw that it said "Barberis" on it.  I advised the agent that the  name o Barberis  n my passport showed "Crabbe-Barberis". Now, I happened to be traveling with a family member who's last name isand I knew that she had made this error because of that.  However when I questioned the name she told me knowingly that is how it showed up on the passenger list.  I let her know that my passport said Crabbe-Barberis and she might want to take another look at the passenger list.  No apologies later, she gave me my handwritten boarding pass.  Onto item number two.  I hosted my first suitcase onto the scale.  It was 7 pounds too heavy.  Bag number two was 15 pounds under and bag number 3 was 20 pounds under.  She told me that I was overweight on bag number one, and "just this once" would she allow me to not pay the fee.  She also told me that only two of the three bags could have the "Priority" orange label on them, because my co-traveler did not have the Premier status that I had.  When I left the ticket desk, I was stopped by someone from home office (I assume) who asked me how everything went.  I explained to him that I was not happy at being treated like I was.  His reply was something along the lines:  "We are so sorry.  Of course you want to be treated with respect like everyone else."  My reply to him was "No, actually, since I have been flying on United virtually every week for the last 8 months, I want to be treated better than everyone else."

Best Practice (or Worst Practice) Derived From This

When a company's issues become the customer's issues there is a problem.  Be willing to break a few rules now and again, to retain your customers.  Treat your best and most profitable customers better.  Include recent behaviors in how you value your customers.

What Could Have Made This Even Better...Or Fixed It?

Pre-coach and train agents for this special day.  Be more lenient with corporate rules especially when their new system was down.  Train the folks from home office who were on site to "help;" they were pretty useless.

Rating and Expectations

2/10 Very Bad

I expected it to be good and it failed to meet my expectations (was bad)

RItz Carleton (Marriott) Hotel (Submitted by Brenda Christensen)

The Category

Hospitality

The Story

Wonderful Bali - it's hard not to like Bali, but the Ritz-Carlton experience is transcendent. They have mastered customer service in a field that is very competitive - hospitality. Also, the experience is consistent across all of their properties. I have also stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall in Jamaica and held a corporate event at the Marina del Rey property - all exceeded expectations in customer service.

Best Practice (or Worst Practice) Derived From This

They not only understand that customer service is king, but that it is also part of an amazing vacation experience. For instance, I received a white glove personal escort through customs by two R-C uniformed staff. I just breezed through.

What Could Have Made This Even Better...Or Fixed It?

One one occasion it was a bit much. We were in the jacuzzi and could sense their presence hiding behind the bushes just in case we needed anything. We did tell them to respect our privacy and they did leave. It's all about being responsive.

Rating and Expectations

10/10

I expected it to be good and it exceeded my expectations (was great)

SeaWorld Orlando (submitted by Anonymous)

The Category

Entertainment, Travel

The Story

Online, On-Premise - No, not what you think    We made a last minute decision to visit SeaWorld Orlando. We (someone else smarter than me) noticed online tickets are $10 cheaper. Being the techie types, we sat outside, used an iPhone as a hotspot, and an iPad to buy tickets. First question, they have automated, self-service kiosks on-site, why are online tickets cheaper? If it is about the human element, the kiosks solve that one?    The online purchase required us to create an account to simply make a purchase. - Why?  We clearly did not have access to a printer, the gate machines could not read the bar code on the iPad.  We had to load pages 3 different times (one bar code for each person)    In the end, it was the people who made the difference. At the gate, a very nice young man had a smile, patience and entered the codes in manually. I do not want to slam anyone too hard here, just point out the many parts of a total experience.

NOTE: This is specific to the electronic ticket buying experience, not the park in general - nor the people.

Best Practice (or Worst Practice) Derived From This

Well, it is certainly not a good practice, that is for sure. Never one who liked multiple choice questions. I did not have very high expectations, but the experience did not meet them. Here, it was not particularly emotional either. Just harder than it needed to be.

What Could Have Made This Even Better...Or Fixed It?

The online purchase could be made much simpler. Eventually, made to be device friendly, but I can see why that might not be on the priority list. They should make the kiosks give the online price (* I am not 100% sure this is not the case)

Rating and Expectations

4/10

I expected it to be good and it failed to meet my expectations.

Okay, Here's Your Chance: The Survey

Topics: Legal, Health, IT Employment

About

In addition to being the author of the best-selling CRM at the Speed of Light: Social CRM Strategies, Tools, and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers Paul Greenberg is President of The 56 Group, LLC, a customer strategy consulting firm, focused on cutting edge CRM strategic services and a founding partner of the CRM training company, BP... Full Bio

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