Counterman editor Mark Phillips addressed in his March editorial a sometimes forgotten part of our business, customer service. He is right on with his synopsis that managers do not have to fix, and nor should they, have to fix every problem that arises.
The issue Mark had with a store is essentially a CS (Customer Service) issue: someone has passed the ball off to someone else, or worse, just thrown the ball away. Good customer service is essentially all we have that differentiates us from the competition. Many of our competitors are huge organizations with seemingly unlimited budgets to do as they please. However, they deal with BS (again, bad service!) very seriously and rapidly. They know they can ill afford to have BS for the same reasons as we do. We have to keep our customer base happy. Customers almost never tell of the great things we do; they do tell others about BS though.
We spend thousands — some organizations spend millions — to get people in the door and one ill-fated moment can run them out. We have to remember to “Give ‘em the Pickle.” The phrase was coined by Bob Farrell, a successful entrepreneur, who trains others in giving “pickles” to customers. Pickles, by his definition, are things that make customers happy: A hand-written thank you note with every order shipped; walking the customer to the item rather than pointing, for example. We handle plenty of returns.
What happens though when the refund goes awry and becomes BS? All organizations have rules of engagement when it comes to the refund. The refund can be a problem at times when there are organizational rules against a certain type of refund. Electrical parts, refunds of special order items, freight charges, etc. come to mind more often than not. The issue here is not if or when we should just take care of the issue, it is how. What’s best for the customer?
We all know that no matter how much we protest, we are not going to give that customer their money back. When they call the corporate number, we are going to give it back. So, give ‘em the pickle.