I recently had two distinctly different experiences as a customer with two brands / companies that I interact with quite often. In both cases, I had a really bad experience in the customer service that we (Jeanne & I) got and suffice to say, wasn’t that happy about either.
After the bad experience, I contacted both companies, as I felt that the owners should know about our experiences, as feedback from customers are always very valuable. The difference thereafter was in the way that these companies responded…
Experience #1: Glasshouse
I’ve been going to Glasshouse for quite a while now, to be pampered every now and again; and for recent visits Jeanne has joined me as well and we make an “outing” of it (and in the process spend a fair amount of money).
When I complained about our experience, the owner responded to my e-mail and apologized for the experience, whilst also explaining the situation that created the problem to begin with. We were also offered a free treatment each on our next visit, which we have received on a subsequent visit. On that visit, the owner also spoke to me in person, again apologizing about the previous experience and making sure that we were happy this time around.
Suffice to say, Glasshouse now has a very happy & extremely loyal customer, because they fixed the situation.
Experience #2: Sevruga
Sevruga is an amazing seafood & sushi restaurant in the Cape Town Waterfront and Jeanne & I have been there a few times, each time enjoying amazing sushi.
So on our last visit, we received extremely poor service from the waiting staff, which included us not getting the correct order and not being offered further drinks or even dessert (all the while, not being able to get the attention of a waiter). The bad service is also significant in relation to the premium prices on the menu, where you kinda expect the service to be just as amazing (as you are paying for a premium experience).
Upon complaining via e-mail, a manager responded to my mail with a vague, impersonal apology, as well as enquiring about the table we where sat at and the waiter that had served us. His response also included an invite to come to the restaurant again, as he believed that they had had an off-day and our experience the next time would make up for our shitty experience before.
His response did not include: a personal response to me (i.e. not just any customer), any kind of actual gesture to apologize or a proper invitation to come to the restaurant again.
Never say never, but we probably won’t ever go back to Sevruga.
I’m not after freebies and I don’t complain simply to get freebies. Instead I’m a firm believer that every owner needs to know when their staff has screwed up, as it gives them the opportunity to rectify the matter with the irate customer.
I also believe that a company that screws up and then fixes it, is a better company than the one that never even screwed up from the beginning; everyone is just human and we expect companies to screw up, which means it’s all about how they fix it.
If a situation is fixed afterwards, I can guarantee you that I will go back to the company every time in future. If however it is left impersonal and open-ended, I doubt whether I will find the incentive somewhere to actually go back ever again…