In the world of customer service, we all love to share our bad experiences – the canceled flight, the forgotten appetizer, the terrible call center support agent, and so on. While there are many lessons to be learned from negative experiences, we can also identify and learn from our good ones. We heard a story recently from Brett, a corporate trainer and consultant living in Oakland, California. Her story highlights some aspects of great service. Brett had a bad experience followed by a great experienceboth at the same company. Lets take a look at what went wrong and how one employee took exceptional measures to set things right.
Heres Bretts story:
I received a check for $10,000 drawn on a Canadian bank, and went to deposit it. The Chase teller took the check without looking at me.
This is not an American check.
I know that.
Itll take about three months to cash it, and it will cost about $130.00, she said, sounding harried, and still without making eye contact.
I guess I dont have any other choice?
She took my check, turned her back, and left me at the window with a long line of people behind me.
She returned with a manager, and they talked to each other in front of me without acknowledging me. A senior manager joined them, who also did not acknowledge me. The senior manager too was stumped, and left the other two with, Look it up.
The teller and her manager searched online. Now I was fifteen minutes into the transaction, and no one had made eye contact with me. The teller finally looked me in the eye.
It will take three months and $130.00, she said, which was exactly what shed said to begin with.
Thats unacceptable, I said, taking my check and leaving.
Id had good experiences at other Chase banks, so I decided to give it a try at a different branch. The teller greeted me warmly (with eye contact) and asked how she could help. I told her my story. She said she didnt know what to do, and would investigate.
When she returned, she said the check would take three to four weeks to clear, and that there might be a fee.
Then she spent ten or fifteen minutes reviewing the details my accounts options. She took out a flip chart, and explained the different features, to me.
I deposited the check. Four weeks passed, and I saw no money. I returned to the branch. The same teller greeted me.
Hi, its so good to see you. How did it go with the check?
Unfortunately, it didnt. I dont have my money.
Oh noits been over a month, hasnt it?
Yesactually, thirty-one days today.
Well, lets look into that right now.
She reopened my file. She had kept a copy of the check. She placed a call and was told the check would clear the very next day, which it did.
Lets take a look at what went right with the second teller:
- Honesty. The second teller admitted she didnt know what the policy was, and would need to find out.
- Sharing information. The teller also gave Brett a heads-up about the fee, and she let her know the details of all her options, so she could make an educated choice.
- Proactive stewardship. When things didnt go as planned, she took stewardship of the situation, and went as far as she possibly could to find out what happened and set things straight again.
- Conveyed a you matter message. The teller remembered Brett, and reflected back the details of their transaction a month later. Combined with the rest of her actions, this cemented the idea in Bretts mind that she mattered, one of the main keys to creating customer loyalty.
Although things went better the second time around, they didnt go perfectly: the check didnt clear when Brett was told it would, and she still got charged a fee. However, the tellers behavior and attitude helped smooth Bretts experience. Her honesty, sharing of information, proactive stewardship and you matter ethos made the difference between further dejection and a sense of deep satisfaction. Someone does indeed care.
Many times, the quality of service depends on the luck of the draw: the particular employee whos at the helm, what kind of a day theyre having, or how much they happen to feel like going the extra mile. It doesnt have to be that wayall the qualities the second teller exhibited are fully trainable (including eye contact).
Companies that consistently deliver great service knowand make sure all their employees knowthe points to hit again and again so great service isnt just a chance happening, but a way of life.
Have you had a great (or not-so-great) service experience or insight lately? Please tell us about it in the comments section below; or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we might profile your story next.
Jill Nagle is a Bay Area writer, mediator and content strategist. Her website is www.copywritingetc.com.