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Breaking the #1 Rule of Customer Service

Guest blog by Dennis Bridges, MBA

About a month ago I drove to Banff National Park for a wedding and a weekend in Canmore with my girlfriend.

Unfortunately, on the highway between Calgary and Banff we had a flat tire.  We tossed on the donut (spare) and managed to make the wedding just in time to take our seats. Early the next morning we set off to the closest tire shop open on the long weekend, which happened to be in Canmore. At this point you might be thinking, “nice, a happy ending.” However, this turned out to be just the beginning of our story. A story in which a well resourced company that should know better, broke the cardinal rule of customer service and possibly made a life long enemy. The company shall remain unnamed, as the purpose of this blog is to educate and debate best practices in business, customer service and leadership.small__13971727877

I dropped off the standard wheel of my Mazda 3 at XYZ Corp., chose a tire and drove off with the assurance that they would install the new rubber and balance the tire before 12 p.m. of the following day. As they appeared to be busy, I didn’t call to check-in until the following afternoon and they assured me that they were now working on it and that it would be done shortly. However, when I arrived at XYZ Corp. to pick it up, the tire was nowhere to be found.

After some gentle prying, the management team admitted that they had actually given my tire away to someone else, but were working on getting a hold of this individual and should have the tire back soon. Seeing as I was on vacation and didn’t want to continue dealing with this all weekend, I suggested we come up with a backup plan. I couldn’t drive 350km home on a donut tire, so perhaps if they hadn’t found my wheel they could give me a steel rim to drive home on.

Sure enough, my tire never turned up.  I was forced to pick up the steel rim and tire…and was actually made to pay for it all (at a marginal discout) and trust that they would send me my rim or figure something out with one of their locations in Edmonton.

At no point thus far had anyone apologized for making a silly mistake or even taken any responsibility for having made a mistake. Ooops! Now this organization has not only lost a customer, but likely made an enemy in the process…

Customer Service Rule #1: When your business makes a mistake, take responsibility on behalf of the business and propose a solution. The customer doesn’t care if you are to blame…or Dougy…or Colonel Mustard in the library with the monkey wrench. To the customer, it is the fault of ABC Corp. in this situation and rightfully so! I simply needed ABC Corp. to take responsibility and present a solution that acknowledges ABC corp. is making an effort to set things right.

ABC Corp. has now found me a replacement rim so I’m going in on Thursday to pick it up. Regardless of how Thursday goes, part two of this little case study promises to be interesting!  Stay tuned……


photo credit: simpleinsomnia via photopin cc


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