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Customer Service and the Role of Integrity

June 11 2012

Display Integrity - Stand Behind Your Product

As I stood waiting to place my order I scanned the restaurant. I watched a woman peel back the tinfoil of her gourmet burger and look across the table at her friend and smile. Then with a slight look of concern on her face, she walked over and spoke with one of the cooks, shared her story and after a brief exchange walked away clearly dissatisfied.

When it was time to place my order she reappeared, this time to share her story with the person he placed the order with. Dying to hear the story I politely let her speak first.

“Excuse me, but I ordered a veggie burger and all I received was a bun with lettuce and tomato. “

“Yes, our veggie burger is a bun with whatever veggies you’d like on it. That is it.”

Shocked she said, “I was expecting there to be some type of veggie patty between the buns, like a veggie burger or something.”

I couldn’t help myself and decided to chime in, “I too would expect some type of patty.”

After a few minutes of staring at each other, the woman said to the man, “You really should let people know that there is no patty in your veggie burger.” With that, she walked away.

“You should really refund her the money for your burger.” I said. “She paid $4 for a bun, lettuce, and tomato and is clearly not happy”

“Yes, that is our veggie burger.”

“Listen, you should refund her money, clearly she was not happy with your product. You don’t want unhappy customers. I run my own business and customer service is extremely important.”

“Yes I agree, customer service is very important to us. May I take your order?”


After ordering, I watched to see if any attempt was made to refund the frustrated woman’s money. When none was made I walked over to her table and said, “You should really go ask for your money back.”

“Yeah, I was thinking about that.” She said.

“If you are not happy with your burger, ask for your money back, that is a ridiculous burger, and for $4?”

“Thanks for your encouragement, I’m going to go do that.” Minutes later she spoke with the manager and was refunded her money. All is well, right?

I’m happy he money was refunded but I feel there is an integrity issue here. We must stand by our products. My company guarantees all of our training. If someone wasn’t happy with the product they should not pay for it, period.

How could this interaction have gone better? During her initial contact with the cook, he should have been trained to say. “Our entire crew is committed to making your experience here outstanding. If what you received is not what you expected let me help you with your refund or provide you with another excellent choice.” This attitude must be taught to everyone, it must be a culture of service. Her second interaction, this time with the cashier should have been along the lines of, “I’m terribly sorry for the mix-up. You are correct. I should have described our veggie burger to you. That was my fault. I’d be happy to refund you, is there something else I can serve you?” The fact that she had to go back three times before her issue was addressed is two times too many.

 

Who are your customers; are they patrons, direct reports, vendors, fellow associates, your family members? Let your integrity be displayed by your unflinching commitment to outstanding customer service. 

I write about the importance of hiring integrity in Hire on a WHIM but remember every time you enter into a transaction with someone you are in effect hiring them. Don’t just hire your next employee on a WHIM.  Use the principles of WHIM to hire your next contractor, phone provider, and yes, the restaurant that is going to make you an excellent veggie burger.


If you’d like to equip your managers with the best tools for hiring, consider our three hour Hire on a WHIM seminar.

For more on providing Outstanding service, read Outstanding by John Miller (no relation)

 

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