We have all had disappointing experiences with businesses and customers alike. In an attempt to shed the nasty fingerprints of these people, we might be inclined to be nasty back. There are so many reasons to resist this temptation, but here is my recent experience of the most fundamental one.
A customer placed her order for a MommyLoves maternity shirt on a Monday, and expected to receive it by the following Friday to wear for her Baby Shower on Saturday. She did not indicate that she needed rush shipping, and our standard customer service timeframe is 1 - 2 business days to make the shirt, with 2 - 3 business days for Priority Mail delivery anywhere in the U.S. This customer called on Friday morning outraged that she had not received her shirt in time for the shower.
Since our shipping confirmation stated that the order was shipped on Wednesday, there was a chance that she would receive it with Saturday's mail, but with USPS there is no guarantee. I have had only one issue with USPS in the seven years MommyLoves has shipped orders through Priority Mail, so the chances were good she would get her order in time, but still not guaranteed.
MommyLoves - "I am so sorry you have not received your order in time. If we knew you needed it by a certain date, we most certainly would have shipped it Express Mail rather than Priority."
Customer - "Your website said 1 - 2 business days to get an order out, and this is now four days! THIS IS THE WORST SERVICE . . . I WILL TELL ALL MY FRIENDS . . . NOW WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR?"
MommyLoves - "I understand that you are disappointed, and I wish we could get all our customers orders to them in 1 - 2 business days using Priority Mail, but that timeframe refers to the amount of time it takes us to actually make your shirt. We create each shirt as it is ordered. However, the most important thing is to get you what you need by tomorrow. Can I give you another option that will allow you to wear your shirt at your baby shower tomorrow?"
Customer - "Sure. I don't know what you can do, but that would be great."
MommyLoves - "We can make your shirt right now, and ship it to you Express Mail overnight at no extra charge. If you receive both shirts, you can simply send one of them right back to us. We will only put a hold on your credit card to secure the cost of the extra shirt, and will not charge you unless the extra shirt is not returned to us after it is shown that it was delivered. This way, you are guaranteed to wear what you want to your shower, and you don't have to buy anything else."
After ensuring that her mail delivery was prior to her baby shower, we did as we promised. Before ending the call, the customer was very happy and apologetic for her behavior and misunderstanding of our policies, and promised to let me know how her shirt was received at the baby shower. I had to take a deep breath after this call, because I had taken on some of the customer's anger and tried not to let it show.
On the following Monday, when we downloaded our new MommyLoves orders for the weekend, we had five new orders indicating that each new customer saw our products at the baby shower over the weekend and heard how we handled the new mom's difficulty. These orders more than made up for the extra $10 we spent for Express Shipping to get this customer her shirt in time for her event.
In all cultures and religions there is a teaching similar to Karma and The Golden Rule, so we all have a fundamental human experience of giving kindness and receiving it in return. I have had many similar conversations over my time filling orders for MommyLoves, and very few have resulted in a monetary repayment for my kindness. I know, however, that I would prefer my customers talk about the positive way these conversations ended or not talk at all about their experience with MommyLoves, rather than have a customer tell every pregnant woman she meets not to shop with us because of any disappointment with our service and the way it was handled.
If you are a customer, how do you treat a company you perceive to have given you poor service? If you are an owner or employee, how do you treat a customer who has a complaint?