Sunday, March 11, 2012

When You Get Bad Customer Service

Yesterday was my birthday, so my sister wanted to take me out to eat. We decided to stop at Panera’s, which is close to my house. The restaurant was not crowded. For those of you, who aren’t familiar with the place you stand in line, give them your order, then wait for your food. I am a frequent customer, as is my sister, and we both have loyalty cards.

My brother-in-law came with us, as did my daughter, making up a group of four adults. The total bill was a little over forty dollars including a few specialty items. We specifically told the cashier we were eating in the store. When we were presented with a large sack of food as opposed to food on plates, I told the staff member, we wanted to eat in the restaurant. Her response was that it wasn’t her problem and pushed the sack toward me.

We sat at the table and attempted to eat salad out of boxes and soup out of Styrofoam cups. It was definitely not visually appealing, but a little harder than you might think. The manager came over and asked if we had changed our mind about our order because we were eating out of takeout containers. I explained once more, we hadn’t changed our mind, but were given a to-go order when specified otherwise. She smiled apologetically, shrugged her shoulders and walked away. Whatever happened to customer service? What happened to the customer always being right?

The next day at work, I explained the ordeal to a co-worker whose husband manages restaurants. Her advice was to contact corporate via the website. I took her advice and was rewarded with a certificate for a free meal within twenty-four hours. I could have left the restaurant slightly perturbed, and no one would have been the wiser. I could also have decided never to come back, and they’d never know why. If we don’t ask for good customer service, then we won’t get it.

You decide what it is worth to you. Complaining used to take so much longer when you wrote a formal letter. Now all you have to do is find the corporate web site. In your complaint, state the date, the nature of the complaint, what you felt should have happened as opposed to how you were treated, and the desired result of your complaint. For example: you might write a letter complaining about purchasing an item that specified twelve items in a package, but there was only eight. You could ask for the missing four, but you will get a coupon for a new item since they cannot get you four.

I bought a Christmas yard decoration on sale that had missing light bulbs. They were an odd size that I could not find a replacement anywhere. The company sent me an entire set of new light bulbs, plus a backup set when I wrote.

As a former customer service representative, let me remind you to never rant, defame, or use profanity. This will get you nothing. Remember to ask for reasonable recompense. If I bought spoiled milk, I wouldn’t ask for a cow. Companies want happy consumers, sometimes they just need us to remind them of what makes us happy.

In the end, if you don’t get any satisfaction. Remember there are plenty of other stores, restaurants, hotels, etc. out there who do care.

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