How to Win Customers and Piss People Off (a Tale of Customer Service)

Yesterday I experienced the entire spectrum of customer service from FAIL right through to WIN and it got me thinking – how many companies really *get* customer service?

This story starts with a tweet. I was logged into Twitter yesterday when saw a tweet from @BestBlooms for free chocolates with a beautiful orchid bouquet with a unique New Zealand kete wrap. My husband is always buying me flowers and I had been wanting to buy him some in return, but had never seen any style that wasn’t too girly. When I saw the orchid wrap, I thought it was quite a masculine yet beautiful – perfect! So I placed the order with @BestBlooms and they promised to deliver it that afternoon.

A short time later, I received a call from them. It turned out that @BestBlooms are located in Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand, while I am in Christchurch on the South Island. So they would be arranging the bouquet and delivery via a Christchurch-based florist. Not a problem. The bouquet arrived late that afternoon via a florist who drove an hour each way just to get it here.

My husband was delighted and the bouquet was very nice and came with 2 liquor chocolates as promised. BUT it didn’t have the kete wrap that was in the photo and convinced me to buy it in the first place. Here’s a picture of the bouquet that arrived (click on it for a larger view):

Orchid wrap BEFORE

Slightly disappointed and because they had asked for feedback, I got in touch with @BestBlooms to let them know I received the bouquet but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Immediately, they asked how they could make it up to me. I responded that I didn’t know, perhaps a discount on my next order or something. They replied via DM:

“Hi – leave it with me – i will make it right. thank you for your order – we do really appreciate yr business and hate it when not right!

and I forgot all about it.

Today, there was a knock at the door and the same florist who drove an hour to my house yesterday was back again today, only this time she was holding a much larger bunch of orchids, with a larger box of chocolates, in the elusive kete wrap! Here’s a picture (click on it for a larger view):

Orchid wrap AFTER

The card said:

“To Gerald and Kalena, This was how it was supposed to look! Our mistake. Sincere apologies, Best Blooms”

I was absolutely blown away. This was gold class customer service! They had managed to turn a customer’s disappointment into delight and if ever anyone in my family or circle of friends needs flowers, who do you think I’m going to recommend? Yep, @BestBlooms. This post will also likely give them positive exposure as well. When I got in touch to thank them, they replied:

“Thank you and you are more than welcome. Guaranteed service is what we promise and thats not what we delivered! Had to be fixed!”

Compare this with another customer service experience on the same day. Yesterday morning, a friend of mine @kiwidvr showed me an email exchange she was having with the manager of a local theatre following a performance of Slava’s Snow Show she had taken her family to on the weekend. They had been seated in the gallery area of the Isaac Theatre Royal and could only see half of the performance due to the location of their seats, much of the action taking place at the front of the stage (which they couldn’t see) and people standing up or lifting their kids up in front of them.

Apparently their tickets in the gallery were inferior to the regular tickets because they booked late, but nobody at Ticketek had told them this upon booking. Having paid $150 for the tickets, my friend was disappointed enough to contact the theatre and complain. What she didn’t expect was the rude and arrogant response she received from the General Manager of the Isaac Theatre. Let’s call him Mr Cox.

Here are some extracts from his email:

“…it was your choice to opt for the cheaper tickets which based on current ticket prices for international shows were extremely well priced and accessible for all ages.”

“We have had no other complaints of this nature… the joy that this show is bringing to is clear to see on the patrons’ faces as they leave the Theatre each night.”

“If there was case for refund we would have considered it. Most times if we believe there are real concerns we’d invite patrons back at our cost. In this case though there isn’t a case for either.”

“I have seated myself in every level, on all sides of the theatre and experienced every show I possibly can here at the ITR. I do know though that unfortunately, as much as we’d love to, we can’t please everyone all the time, its the nature of the business.”

I couldn’t believe that this representative of the company chose not only to completely ignore my friend’s concerns, but to dismiss them as unimportant and make an assumption that SHE was the one with the problem. He also assumed that she wanted a refund when all she wanted was an apology.

I was amazed at the arrogance of the guy. He had a chance to turn an unhappy customer into a grateful one and he chose instead to compound the situation with a condescending and rude response. It was customer service FAIL of the worst kind. Do you think that theatre will be losing business over this? You betcha. My friend and I will be telling everyone we know about it and avoiding any shows at the Isaac Theatre in the future.

Having just experienced a customer service WIN on the same day, the comparison was black and white. So the question is – if you’re in business, how good is YOUR customer service? Is it more likely to win customers or piss people off?

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[Added – it was noted in the comments that I didn’t give the South Island florist any link love. Fair point! The wonderful South Island florist who made all those trips out here was Hornby Florist. Hats off to you as well.]

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