By Chelsea Stebner
I’m known by my team and friends as a woman with high expectations—and I own that! The high expectations of our team results in high levels of customer care, quality service and product. I’m reminded of it every time I receive outstanding care and service as well as every time a business underwhelms me instead.
I recently engaged the ongoing service of another local business. My purchase was not inexpensive and the service I expected to receive was listed specifically. The first day, our expectations were not met, however, extending grace, I thought I would wait another day and see if it was just a malfunction.
At the end of the second day, with the same outcome as the first day, I decided to ask some questions. I wrote an email, I read it, I waited a bit, I re-read it to ensure that I wasn’t overreacting and clicked send.
The next morning, I awoke to an email—a reaction, not a response. My concerns were not addressed. I was basically told “this is how it is” and brushed off.
The following morning, I got to the shop and one of my team members said, “I need you. I have a situation,” and proceeded to tell me about a customer who had different expectations than the results he received and was not pleased and now it was my turn to manage damage control.
These small stories serve as a great reminder about our attitude when a customer is unhappy and calls us out on it. Our first human response is defensiveness. Do you react right away? Or do you fall all over yourself apologizing and fumbling? Slow down.
What is the right thing to do? As the first story was fresh in my mind. I stopped, looked at the file and read all the notes. I then asked a whole bunch of questions of my team and determined a plan of action prior to talking with our customer. I then picked up the phone and ate some humble pie.
“Hey Marv, sounds like we did not meet your expectations and for that I apologize.” No excuses. “Let’s fix it for you”.
Lessons we have learned today:
- If we are not sure of the customer’s expectations or what our team expects, ask more questions. As my friend Chris Mario taught us, keep asking why till you find the answer.
- It is time for a team refresher on communication and judgement calls within shop floor.
We are not perfect; however, we are using our mistakes as an opportunity for improvement and coaching. We are always in learning mode.
Back to the first story. I know, as well as you do, that an unhappy customer, without resolving the issue is far more likely to share with others, their negative experience. Knowing this, I will provide clear, concise feedback at the end of the purchased services and hope that the business owner will be open to hearing it.
I am so appreciative of the customer who chooses to provide us with feedback, even when it may be negative, and the opportunity to make it right instead of choosing not to return and to tell others instead.
High expectations are not a bad thing. They continually help us to rise and choose to do the right thing, every time, instead of the easy things. Play that long game. Investing in your customers and building your brand by doing the right things will pay off.
Chelsea Stebner is the CEO and managing partner of Parr Auto Body in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and a member of the CCIF Steering Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.