The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly by John Cannon

Customer Service: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by John CannonThe Good

I recently switched banks due to poor customer service at my Finance Center Federal Credit Union. I called my new banker at the M&I branch in Broad Ripple on Friday because I had a question about setting up my online banking. He immediately helped me, thanked me for banking with them and asked if I needed any other assistance. Standard procedure, I know. But he went above and beyond. Apparently, there had been a snafu in my account that was about to cost me fees and I had no idea because the account was so new. He not only took care of the fees, but showed me how to do things a little bit differently to avoid that in the future. I sent him an email Friday evening to thank him for taking such good care of my account and here’s the kicker: he immediately responded! This is a branch manager, it’s Friday night after 10:00 PM, and his response wasn’t an auto-draft response, it was a personal response. The beautiful thing is that he didn’t even think he’d done anything exceptional, that the high level of customer service he’d delivered was, “what a banker is supposed to do.” I’ve never had a bank care a plug nickel about me after quitting time, much less after hours on a Friday. I still sing his praises every time anyone asks me about a bank. I send them to Justin at M&I Bank.

I don’t mind spending money but I do believe in receiving value for my hard-earned dollars. Just like all of you, I have to work for every dime so I don’t want it wasted.

The Bad

I recently had an experience at Loon Lake Lodge where I took my four year old son for his birthday dinner. We chose Loon Lake Lodge because my son loves the animatronic bears and they were advertising a Kids Eat Free special. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Until the bill comes. That’s when we found we were charged full price for all three meals. I’m a polite guy; I know mistakes happen from time to time, so I quietly mentioned to our server that my son’s meal was supposed to be free. He informed me that the Kids Eat Free special had ended the week before. Ummm… maybe so, but there is an advertisement for it right on our table. Their response was, “Oh, we were supposed to pick those up yesterday, sorry about that.” There are two problems with that: the special was still being advertised and it’s also printed on every one of their kids’ menus. So they would need to throw out every single kids’ menu to stop advertising the special.

To make a long story short, they absolutely refused to remove my son’s birthday meal no matter how much I pointed out how ridiculous it was for them to advertise a special and not honor it. Huge disappointment. This only resulted in me leaving absolutely unsatisfied. Despite the high quality in the food, the extremely low level of customer service left a bad taste in my mouth. Believe me, it didn’t take long for my fingers to find my phone and let everyone I knew on Twitter to know that the restaurant cannot be counted on to honor their own advertised specials.

(Since this article was written Loon Lake Lodge has closed for business.)

The Ugly

The other bad time I had was when I stopped in to McDonald’s to grab a quick bite of something so hideously artery-clogging it should come with a warning on the bag and do a little work on the free Wi-Fi network. (Hey McDonald’s, take a clue from Panera: if you’re going to advertise you have free Wi-Fi to lure in people with laptops, then install some electrical outlets! Wi-Fi with no place to plug in = dissatisfied customers!) I had little  hope for any kind of flavor with my greaseburger  and my low expectations were met. What I didn’t expect to see was the ROACH crawling on the wall beside me. I didn’t spend a lot at McNasty that day, but I still felt ripped off.  When I contacted McDonald’s to let them know about their health violation, they decided to buy me off with a free frappe coupon. You know, the same coupons that they’re giving away on every one of their large drink cups. Wow, what value. And really, after seeing roaches in the dining area, do you think I REALLY want to come back to eat at your restaurant again?

So what does all of this tell us about customer service? The best service is service done right the first time, every time. Customers expect you to try your best to keep us happy.  Of course, everyone falls down once in a while, no one is perfect and we don’t expect you to be. However, the real test of a company’s character is how they deal with it when they fall down. Does your company get out of the mud puddle, clean up and make sure it doesn’t happen again? Or does your company tell your customers that life is dirty, deal with it? How your company deals with an adverse customer service issue not only determines if that customer returns, but how many hundreds of their closest Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace friends know about how you deal with it.