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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Chapter One

May 16, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 100

I'm a very positive guy. So it saddens me that many of my customer service observations focus on bad examples and what not to do. Since I'd rather find and write about examples of fabulous customer service, it's become my passion in life to work towards most people thinking that customer service in general is pretty good (the opposite is now true). Then I'd see great customer service all over the place!

But we're not there yet.

I have a horror story that is funny to share, but was maddening to experience firsthand.

For those of you who don't know or don't live in a state blessed with Pollo Loco franchises, they have the best flame broiled chicken in the world. I've been enjoying it for nearly 20 years.

However, their customer service varies wildly from store-to-store. Find the wrong store and you might want to strangle an employee or two. Some workers fail to grasp even the most rudimentary customer service principles.

And after years of searching, I finally found my favorite el Pollo Loco franchise. It's a little farther away from my house, but it's worth going out of my way to get good service. I even wrote the company and told the district manager how great this store was, especially compared to other branches. Things had been going great, they knew me there, and I loved eating their chicken. Unfortunately, I had an experience last night that has made me reevaluate these positive feelings.

So, last night I wanted some Pollo Loco chicken for dinner after a late movie. I called my favorite location, with the best service in town, to place a takeout order. I got through after the phone rang for almost 2 minutes. An employee breathlessly answered the phone and then asked if I could hold. "Sure!" I responded. Then, I waited, and waited, and waited.

I drove 8 miles in LA traffic, arrived at the store, and walked in with the phone still ringing. I asked to speak to the manager. He was on the register. I assumed they had just forgotten me, which was not true. They had decided not to answer my call because they were busy. So they let me sit, and sit, and sit on hold.

Since they knew me, I asked them if they could see the phone was on hold. Yup. Oooops. I told them it was me, and that I had been on hold for almost ten minutes. What did the woman do? She walked over to the phone and hung it up. Not a word of apology. After speaking with the employee, I went to the end of the line to wait my turn to speak to the manager. While I was in line, I could see that the employee and the manager were talking about the call, my wait, and the whole mess.

I get to the front of the line and the manager says to me, "Hello, how are you?" Seriously?! He already knew I was upset, yet he didn't make his first words "I am so sorry for the mess."

I told him the whole story, in particular the part about being hung up on without a word of apology. He turns to the person who hung up on me, says something, and she comes over and apologizes. He gives me some lame excuses about not knowing about the call, blah, blah, blah. It never occurs to him to apologize, he just denies responsibility for the actions of his troops.

I ask the manager why his employee waited to apologize until he told her to. And, then it gets ugly. He lies to me. He says she doesn't speak English very well and so she didn't say anything. Which doesn't make sense, she did a fine job speaking with me and apologizing once he'd told her to.

Sorry to say, I was angry and left without my chicken and my appetite.

Now, here is the moral of the story. When you screw up, just apologize. Then apologize again. Everyone. All the time. Take responsibility for annoying a great, loyal customer. You screwed up. So does everyone. Just apologize and then do something extra to make it right. In this case, buy me some chicken, give me a free coupon, or something else to make it right. Chicken and rice costs him a nickel. My business is worth about $1000 a year, minimum. Is saving that biz worth an apology and a little chicken? Yes.

Deny. Lie. And, forget to make it right. That just doesn't work, not if you want your loyal customers to remain loyal.

There's more to this story, so be on watch for Chapter Two of this saga of great flame-broiled chicken and frustrating customer service. No matter how great the product, without exemplary service you get lost in the shuffle.

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Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Customer Service


Customer Service Observations


Pollo Loco


Great Customer Service


Lee Tomlinson

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