Although I have precisely zero evidence to support such thinking, I am of the opinion that there is a reliance on customer apathy by many organisations when it comes to their customers. Specifically, I’m referring to organisations that impose undue difficulties on their customers when they need to have something addressed resulting in customers either not asking at all or giving up in frustration.
Here I present two somewhat-contrasting cases of what happens when one does ask.
As I’m a hopeless geek, I had preordered the special edition of a very mature, culturally important video game that came with a collectible thingy. On the day of release, no shipping details were available so I wrote to the good people at Amazon to find out what was going on. The response I received can be summed up as follows:
- We made a mistake managing our inventory
- You’ll still definitely get the limited edition you ordered
- We’ve upgraded the shipping on your order from 2 days to overnight at no cost
- Here’s a $15 Amazon credit – we don’t imply that this makes up for the delay but we hope you’ll accept this gesture as a show of our want to retain your trust as a customer
This is an example of acknowledging, resolving and making the issue right with the customer. The cause of the issue has been stated clearly, the resolution laid out and things made right with the customer. I was extremely happy with this outcome, but seemingly Amazon weren’t. Later on that same day, Amazon sent me a UPlay code for the game so I could start playing it immediately, effectively allowing me to get started on the campaign before I would have otherwise been able to.
The game itself was more of a letdown than ordering a Meatlover’s pizza and having a Vegan’s Delight pizza delivered instead. With the pizza being cold, stale and missing all analogues of cheese. But that’s hardly Amazon’s fault.
In 2016, I had scheduled a month-long holiday in the US so I could be incredibly mature and ride as many rollercoasters as possible. Of course, I needed to fly Business Class but wasn’t willing to pay the asking price and used my wanker-ish status with the airline to upgrade using points.
At this time, Virgin Australia was in the process of refitting their fleet with an excellent, originally named Business Class product and a seat had opened up on a flight featuring this upgraded product. Of course this Arsehole immediately called (because making this change online is seemingly impossible), paid the required $100.00 change fee and secured themselves a seat in this much better cabin. Or so it would seem.
A few days later I’d noticed that my seat allocation had changed, and to my infinite horror it turns out that the flight I’d changed to still featured the old product without direct aisle access for all passengers and lots of other undesirable aspects. I wrote to the good people at Virgin Australia, explaining that I had now paid $100.00 to receive the following benefits:
- The exact same type of service I previously had secured
- Earning fewer Velocity Points and Status Credits
- Having to get to the airport even earlier
- My then-partner’s (yes, I date – don’t laugh!) unending laughter for securing all this for the incredibly reasonable price of $100.00
I wrote to the good people at Virgin Australia, requesting that this change be reversed (as the only reason it was made was to get access to the shiny new product) and was told the following:
- Thank you for being a Velocity Platinum member
- Cabin configurations are subject to change for operational reasons
- Go away
Of course, being an Arsehole I did not go away. I wrote back, providing screenshots of my seat selection, requests that the call recording be checked and asking precisely what sort of person would want to spend any funds on the “benefits” I’d received by making the change.
At this point those that knew of my arseholery were hoping for imminent defeat, with my antics somehow resulting in me ending up Economy (or the cargo hold) to restore balance in the universe. Alas, a wonderful person named Linda from Virgin Australia called me, credited $100.00 to my Travel Bank balance and added the deficit of points and status credits to my account. It was also admitted that an issue at the airline caused the problem that I saw and the initial response had not considered all the facts, with additional training and reviews being considered to stop this from happening again.
All-in-all, the issue was sorted satisfactorily but at the cost of more effort than was warranted.
The moral of these ramblings
Things are going to go wrong, regardless of how much is put in place in terms of safeguards, planning, mechanisms and good intentions. Focusing on the manner in which issues are dealt with is infinitely more important than focusing on the issue itself.