On the heels of the United Airlines debacle of dragging a passenger off the plane, I have been pondering the art of customer service, and how it seems to have become an option in business, rather than a necessity. I have been very fortunate in the companies I once worked for. All were stellar in the fine art of customer service. My first foray into the art was none other than Disneyland, where the guest was king, and guest services were just below safety, and above everything else! Anything we could do to make your visit more pleasant was our aim. That was in 1979; Disneyland today could stand to use a refresher from what was called the Disney University, where we trained. Following Disneyland, was a marriage a few years later, and a career with the airlines. My particular airline’s tagline was that we had style! And style we did. Air Cal was a dream job for just 4000 plus or minus employees flying up and down the west coast. When I was a supervisor, if I had a problem I couldn’t solve with a passenger in another town, I could call someone at that airport, and work it out. The person on the other end of the line was usually someone you knew or acted as if you knew. Like a long lost cousin, we were all on the same team in an airline “family” environment, and the best in customer service was our aim. Sometimes we failed, and no matter what we did, we could not make a customer happy. NO MATTER WHAT! I have a brother from another mother that shares the same laugh over a customer “fail” thirty years later. Sometimes, you just could not win.
The thing about working for companies who strive for the best in customer service, as employees you become the holder of the magic wand. You want the customer to walk away with a smile and share with others how great Company ABC is. And as employees, you work together to make that happen and gain some lifelong friends along the way.
While working for Air Cal, I also worked for Nordstrom. In 1985, Nordstrom was the Grand Poobah of Customer Service. No one in retail did it better than Nordstrom. They were without peer, and Nordstrom University as it was, trained we the salespeople to act at the highest and most professional level. Working at the anchor store in Southern California, was no walk in the park. It was a highly competitive environment, but if you stuck to serving the customer, you filled your little binder with names and addresses of people who would love to shop with you!
Truly, the best of times, and I am so grateful to those companies for giving me that core of service. It comes at a cost, though. Because you are trained in the fine art of customer service, it is difficult to stand by and watch it go by the wayside with manners and civility in 2017. You want what you once knew! How hard could it be? The last thing companies should do away with is customer service and the autonomy that comes with it for the salesperson whether it be on the world wide web, or actual brick and mortar.
Just when I was losing all hope of any decency returning, I receive a package from a fairly new company called Patchology. At least they are new to me. Long story short, I had dry skin and was excited to try their hydrating masks, especially the ones for the eye area. I ordered a trial, and when it arrived, I dug right in. As I peeled the re-usable patch from the plastic, I was met with this:
GROSS! What is this madness? So, I contacted customer service to ask if this is what it looks like. I received an immediate response of NO! “Please send us your address, and we will expedite a replacement.” A few weeks go by, and I reach out again. They apologize, and will take care of it, no problem! A month goes by, and still nothing. Now I am mad. Somewhere the ball was dropped, and I was receiving lip service and no one followed through. I wished the company well but was not going to be a customer. They refunded me. I did not ask for a refund, but then saw it on my PayPal. They never said a word, just took care of it. And then, a box arrived at my doorstep, and this was inside.
There was no note, but the message is clear. Patchology is sorry and does care about their customer service. They made a mistake. Their company is young and growing, and “please accept our apology” is what I imagine them to say. I accept!
At the end of the day, in our more casual world, was it necessary to rid ourselves of stellar customer service? I think not. Good service and good manners never go out of style. We need to teach our kids this lesson. Going the extra mile, rarely gets you run over. There were many solutions to the United Airlines overbooking debacle, but the “team” has lost its way. The corporate office needs to go back on to the floor where the heartbeat is and see what makes you better, or sadly worse. The same goes for Nordstrom and Disneyland. Pump your employees up to love working for you, and you will see complaints go down and spirits go UP!
Thank you Patchology for making this right. You went the extra mile, and I appreciate the effort! Trying those sleep eye patches tonight!
I am in no way compensated for this post. If you would like to try Patchology, you can find them here: https://www.patchology.com/