Following are customer service situations that have actually happened to me or my family or friends. Some are positive, and some are negative—you be the judge.
- The sign on the building said One-Hour Cleaners, and I needed a pair of wrinkled slacks cleaned to wear to a dinner that evening. It was 1 p.m., and I asked whether I could pick up the pants at about 4 p.m. I was told not until tomorrow. I mentioned the one-hour sign and was told that it was only the store name, not how they do things. I went somewhere else and got the pants cleaned in time for dinner.
- I bought a pair of slacks at Nordstrom that had to be altered and went to pick them up about five days later. When I tried them on, they were a little long, but I couldn’t wait there until they were fixed. My salesperson said they would deliver the pants to my office soon, so I gave them my business card and left. I expected them in three or four hours, but they arrived in 45 minutes, much to my surprise.
- I took my car to a well-known auto-service place for an oil change and a tire rotation. I was told it would take 30 minutes, and I went to the waiting room. After about 40 minutes, I inquired as to the status and was told it would be another 20 minutes (or one hour total). I told them they had said 30 minutes, and the man replied, “I meant 30 minutes after we finished our lunch.”
- I went to a family restaurant, ordered a sandwich, and asked whether I could have chips or coleslaw instead of potato salad. The waitress said there were no substitutions allowed. When the meal came, it had fruit on the side; they had run out of potato salad and had to substitute.
- When we owned an ice cream store, we ran out of vanilla on a hot Sunday afternoon. Because vanilla was our biggest seller, it put us in a real bind. All the suppliers were closed, so we called our local rep on his cell phone. He went to the storage freezer and brought us some vanilla within an hour.
- A new employee at our ice cream store was serving an older couple. The man asked for one dip of rocky road. The server said she didn’t know what a “dip” was and unless he said “scoop,” she would not give it to him. I jumped in and took over. Needless to say, she didn’t last long.
- I thought the cleaners closed at 6 p.m. on Saturday, but it was really 5 p.m. I needed a suit back to wear to a musical that evening, so I called at about 5 p.m. to make sure the suit was ready. The employee said the store was closing—but they were nice enough to wait 20 minutes until I arrived. They have gotten a lot more business from me since then.
- A major gas station had a sign that said it closed at 11 p.m. I got there at about 10:45 p.m., and the pumps were turned off or not working. I went inside, and the teenager on duty said he was closing early. He had to meet some friends at 11 p.m., and he told me to come back the next morning. I just found out that they closed down recently. I wonder why….
- A fast-food walk-in restaurant that gets very busy at lunchtime came up with a smart idea. Everyone is in a hurry at lunchtime, so they have a person with a clipboard taking orders from people standing in line. When you get to the register, you hand the order sheet to the cashier, and everything moves more quickly. Why doesn’t everyone do that?
- Several years ago, I bought a new Mustang. Before I drove away, I asked whether the dealer had checked everything. Later that evening, I noticed that one headlight was out, and I was irritated. I called the salesman the next day, and he told me, “I don’t make the cars; I just sell them.” I never bought another car from them.
- At a fast-food hamburger franchise, I had to wait in line for an unusually long time because of a couple of big orders ahead of me and a reduced staff at the establishment. I was getting a little impatient after five minutes, and so were the people behind me. The alert owner or manager noticed this and offered all of us a free upgrade to a meal at the price of a single hamburger. He also jumped in and helped fill the orders.
- I purchased a new second home about 900 miles from my native Chicago. Six weeks before closing, I went to a store that sold a variety of home products; I thought I would get good prices and service if I purchased most things there. I ordered carpet upgrades, special tile for the bathroom floors, a bigscreen TV, and all the window coverings. The saleswoman who helped me pick out the window coverings assured me that it would only take three to four weeks for a custom order, and we had six weeks. I wanted to set an exact date and fly out to be there for the installation, and she told me that would be no problem—that they would hold everything at the store. I gave
a 50 percent deposit (several thousand dollars) and was assured that everything was set because I had ordered well in advance. I checked in a couple of times over the next few weeks and was told everything was on schedule. So I bought my plane ticket and arrived at my new house a week after closing for my 10 a.m. appointment with the installers. When no one had arrived by 10:30 a.m., I called the store and was told my salesperson was off sick. After 10 minutes, I found out that I wasn’t even scheduled for installation that day because she had forgotten to order two items. I had to fly back the next week and was never able to reach the salesperson again. I eventually talked to the owner and was given a few extras, but not enough to make up for two plane fares.
- My regular barber knows that I hate to wait and I’m always in a hurry. She normally opens her shop at 10 a.m., but she comes in at 9:15 whenever I need a haircut, so no one is ahead of me. I’ve been going there for every haircut for the past three years, and I plan to continue doing so indefinitely.
- I slipped on the ice while getting into my car. I banged my head on the edge of the window and cut myself just above my eye. The cut wouldn’t stop bleeding, so after a half hour, I went to the local walk-in medical office. They fixed everything and sent me on my way. The next day I received a call from the physician’s assistant, asking me how I was and whether I had any questions. I was pleasantly surprised because I’ve never received a call like this from a medical office before.
- We needed 300 copies on blue paper made quickly, so we went to a well-known copy store. We asked for 100 folded and 200 flat, and the person wrote that on the order form. When we picked up the copies an hour later, they were all folded. When we complained, the employee said that just because it was on the order form, that didn’t mean the person who ran the copies would read it.
- I recently had little time for lunch on a busy day, so I stopped at a well-known national coffeehouse for a gourmet brew and a low-sugar scone to eat. The scones were on display near the cash register; however, I was told that they stop selling breakfast items at 11 a.m., so they couldn’t sell me one.
- During a visit to a large national office-supply store some years back, I was trying to find a ribbon for our typewriter. I hadn’t purchased this item before, so I wasn’t sure where to find it, and I asked someone stocking a shelf in the copy-paper section. The employee said he didn’t work in that section but would call someone. The loudspeaker announced my situation, and I was told to stand in the center aisle and wait. After a couple minutes—which seems like a long time when you’re just standing there—I decided I would just go back to my office, order
it from the catalog, and wait the extra day. As I was leaving, I noticed about five people in line to check out and only one cashier. There were about 20 people working or talking in that store but only one checkout open. I guess they had already made enough money that day.