Friday 9 September 2005

How not to treat a customer!

Over the last couple of months we’ve addressed a number of issues relating to good customer care. These have covered some of the things we think that suppliers and store owners should and shouldn’t do in the way they deal with us. Very few of them are revolutionary and seem just plain common sense to us. However, it still comes as a surprise when things go dreadfully wrong.

The following is a list of events that have been reported to us in the last week. All are genuine and none have been made up!

What do you say when a customer complains to you, the restaurant manager, that most of the items listed on your menu are unavailable?

A. “It’s not my fault. I blame the chef”?
B. “I’m terribly sorry, we’ve been let down badly by our supplier but let me tell what we CAN do for you.”
C. “Yes, I’m SO sorry about that but can I get you a free drink to apologise?”

In case you hadn’t realised the wrong answer is A! And yes, that’s the answer that was given.

What do you say to customers who are complaining that the restaurant is understaffed and they can’t get adequate service?

A. “I’m the Manager, it’s not my job to serve you.”
B. “Yes, I’m sorry about this but what can I do for you?”
C. “One of our staff is off sick but I really hope you’ll bear with us. Would you like a free drink?”

Again, A is the wrong answer. Again A was the answer given.

What do you do, when 8 foreign tourists who are no doubt carrying loads of foreign currency, show signs of getting up and leaving in protest at not being served?

A. Watch them leave
B. Apologise, ask them what you can do to help, engage them in conversation and make them feel welcome.
C. Offer them a snack and a free drink while they wait.

Again A is the wrong answer. And that’s what happened.

What do you say when all the customers in the restaurant are ganging up on you in response to the dreadful lack of service?
A. “Will you PLEASE stop complaining?”
B. “Look I’m very sorry everyone, this is just a terrible night for us. I’m going to knock 50% off everyone’s bill tonight.”
C. “I’m so sorry everyone. Would you all like a free drink?”

Yes A is the wrong answer again. Yes, that’s what was said.

What do you say to a hotel customer who is checking out and complains that they had a bad experience in the hotel restaurant the night before?
A. “Yes, the Manager told me.”
B. “I’m VERY sorry to hear that you must have felt very disappointed. This is NOT the sort of service we aim for.”
C. “I’m really very sorry, we hope you’ll give us a second chance. Would you like a discount voucher for your next stay or perhaps a free drink?”

Finally, in case you hadn’t guessed already, A is the wrong answer. And yes, that’s what as said.

The really, desperately, dreadfully, appallingly bad news? Every single one of these events occurred during a single stay at the Sedia Hotel in Maun last weekend. Every one of them.

This was in Maun, one of the most important tourist centres in Botswana. What must tourists think of us? What are those 8 foreign tourists telling their friends and relatives in their home country right now? Are they telling them that they came to a great country with courteous and friendly people who were really proud to welcome them to Botswana? Not a chance! They’re laughing at us, right now as you’re reading this.

This really is not good enough. It’s shameful that visitors should see us behave like this. Also, it’s also just rude. Whether we’re tourists or on business we pay lots of money to stay in hotels and the very least we deserve is a little courtesy and respect. And a free drink every so often!

This week’s stars!

  • However it’s not all bad news from Maun! Kaone at Sedia Hotel actually did seem to care about problems at check and did her best to fix them.
  • Sylvester at the security checkpoint at Maun airport looked at our colleague’s ID and then thanked her by name with a huge smile. That sort of thing can make someone’s day and shows visitors to Botswana what we are really like.
  • We heard that Ignatius at Standard Chartered, Hemamo House Branch in Gaborone deserves special praise for always being courteous, patient and friendly and always going the extra mile.
  • Also Candy at Stanbic Bank, Fairgrounds Branch in Gaborone for being “amazing”.
  • Lalala, Lala and Osenotse, also at Stanbic Bank, Fairgrounds Branch in Gaborone for service that WOWs customers.
  • Sarah at Barclays Home Loans for keeping a customer updated and for being so efficient.
  • Kenanae at Barclays Carbo Centre for great after-sales service.

We’ve noticed something about the success stories we publicise. A growing number of the good news stories we hear are about banks! We don’t think it’s just our imagination but the service we all get from the banks genuinely does seem to be improving. Yes, there’s clearly a long way to go but all credit to the banks for actually seeming to do something about it.

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