When it all goes WRONG!

Apr 04
[av_textblock size=” font_color=” color=”] Everyone without exception gets things wrong sometimes. It’s the nature of things. But what happens when things go wrong in business?

I have a story to share about customer service that shows how things can get very bad very quickly.

It was my little brothers 18th birthday in February. As a special gift I bought him a ‘Zombie Experience’ where he could go to shot air soft weapons at random people dressed up as zombies. Naturally with a gift of this type there was a little time to wait until the actual day, just under a month so the excitement built up.

At 11:30PM on the day before the event we received an email saying the event had been cancelled. This is where things started to go wrong.

The reason given was plausible, there had been vandals on the site and it wasn’t safe to run the event. This explains the late notice and is unavoidable. Future dates and refunds were offered. The only problem was that the email went to everyone who had booked and the email addresses were all shared between us. Small data protection mishap but nothing people were overly concerned about.

What happened next was shockingly bad.

3 days later and one bright spark took advantage of the shared email addresses to ask if anyone else had heard back about future dates. There was a resounding NO and then the bombshell. For one person booked on this was the THIRD time the event had been cancel. Cue PANIC.

7 days later and it is as though the zombie apocalypse promoted had actually happened, all communication channels had been cut off, people (mainly the business owner) were missing and there seemed to be general panic and lack of knowledge about what was going on. Cash refunds that had been promised had not happened. No future dates had been offered. Worst of all the customers had now taken to a daily email round robin to update each other on the progress.

11 days later the business owner sends an email. Communication has been restored and the human race may yet survive this cataclysmic event. The email starts well, an omission of responsibility, an apology and a resolution (refunds within 7 days). Brilliant, honest, a few swear words but endearing. That was until the last paragraph. Quoted here in full exactly as received.

I am aware that this email will now be discussed in the convo some of you have been having behind my back (i get screenshots from customers all the time about it), please feel free to add me to the convo instead of talking behind my back and slagging off, that way i can answer all questions direct.

Oh dear.  Very oh dear.

There were lots of angry emails back.

15 days later cheques had started to arrive. People were happier. Although some of those cheques were post-dated to a weeks’ time.

21 days later and events went sour again. Cheques that had arrived had bounced. Some people still without cheques at all. I did have my date for rebooking though.

28 days later. All communication was dead. One customer had referred the issue to trading standards. One customer had contacted their bank to recall the deposit. One customer had instructed her solicitor. I now fear for the rebooking date, that’s in one months’ time, 3 months after my brothers’ birthday. One customer has posted a very damming ‘testimonial’ on ever facebook post he has ever made. All hope of sister points has been lost.

Things do go wrong in business. Customers are sometimes let down. Often it isn’t anyone’s fault. But communication is crucial. Unfortunately the lack of communication has led to all-out war on the business owner. I am assuming that this chap is a legitimate business owner who wants to build a profitable honest business.

Gold star customer service looks like this;

  • Customers are the whole focus of what you do.
  • Communication is clear, honest and timely.
  • Expectations that are set should be met.

It’s really that simple. If you are not getting these things right then there will be big problems for your business. Gaining and Retaining customers is hard work. Valuable, essential in fact to having any business at all is getting the customer service right.

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