December 22, 2016

Customer Service

Tonight's post may or may not be a submission for a Mystery Shopper Program. Nothing special. Just figured why not crank something out and maybe get a chance to have a few free meals.

Best Customer Service Experience:

It is July 2004. Summer. We are in the Grasse in the south of France. Honeymooning.

We had been staying in a small apartment in Nice for a few weeks, but now we were hitting the road and trying out a few nicer hotels. We were driving a tiny Smart car plastered with a 99 Euro-A-Day sign and traveling light with a few haggard backpacks. We felt like outsiders, when we arrived at the Chateau, as our miniature car pulled into a parking lot littered with Jaguars, Porches and a few Rolls Royces. We valeted the car and made our way to check in.

The staff was very kind and treated us with the utmost respect. After some initial banter, the young man behind the counter knit his brow and said there might be a problem with our reservation. It seemed that a hotel employee had also made a reservation for that night and now there were no more regular rooms. We would have to stay in one of their suites. This sounded great, but I was worried that we would be charged the difference. The regular room was already a splurge for us and anything more would have been impossible. I was a bit nervous and embarrassed to ask how much that would be, but then I saw the guy smiling. He was messing with us. “Of course there will be no additional charge for the upgrade.”

A few minutes later, we were shown to our suite. It was beautiful. Three rooms. A balcony over looking the flower fields. A giant bathtub with fragrant artisanal soaps and shampoos. I was in the tub within the hour.

We knew that we could not afford the restaurant, so we bought wine, bread and cheese in town and enjoyed the suite for the rest of the night. In the morning we splurged and paid of the champagne breakfast and leisurely dined on the balcony.

The staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome every time we came and went.

On the day we left, they brought our little Smart car around and packed our bags in the tiny trunk and waved us off as we headed to Cannes.

Worst Customer Service Experience:

Not sure if this is one of my worst customer service experiences, but it is definitely a bad one, and quite recent as well. Earlier this year I was at the Nike store trying to buy my daughter a pair of basketball shoes. I was pleasantly surprised to find exactly what we were looking for, in her size, and on sale to boot.

Why yes, thank you I will take these size 6.5 Lebrons for the reasonable price of $60 SGD. The store was a a bit busy and chaotic as we made our way to check out counter. I was chatting with my daughter about some basketball shoe related topic, when the sales clerk told me that unfortunately the shoes were not in the system and that he couldn’t sell me the shoes.

“But I don’t understand. You have the shoes right there in your hands and I have money that I want to give you for the shoes.”

He told me that he understood how I might be frustrated, but there was nothing he could do. Because the shoes were not in the system, there was no way he could sell me the shoes, and if I wanted I could put my name on a list and come back to get the shoes in a few days.

“But I don’t want the shoes in a few days.” I was shocked to see how many people had added their name to his list. “Can’t you just add them manually? This is business 101. You have a product that I want and I have money, nothing should be getting in the way of this transaction.”

He smiled sheepishly, shaking his head. We were at an impasse.

“Can you please call the manager?” I was irate. He wasn’t even entertaining the possibility that he could solve this problem on his own.

A few seconds after the manager was called over, the shoes were manually inputted into the system, my credit card was approved, I was signing the receipt, and the customer service guy was bagging my shoes like nothing had happened.

Tonight's post may or may not be a submission for a Mystery Shopper Program: him a passive aggressive death glare and left the store with the shoes. Trying to control my anger, so my daughter couldn’t see how petty I was being.

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