I gave the customer the refund.
But I wanted them to feel bad about it.
Several years ago, I was in the Reno Raving office bitching about a refund to a customer. I didn’t feel that they deserved it. I believed that they were pulling a fast one on me.
However, the right thing to do, the Raving way, was to give the refund — give the customer what they needed. So I did. But I only got it half right. The Raving way to do it should have been to give the customer what they needed AND to feel good about it.
Steve Browne was in the office that day and gave me one of my biggest character lessons in all of my 10 years of working at Raving. And that lesson has extended way past principles in customer service.
He told me that once you make the decision to give back to a customer, do it WITHOUT CONDITION.
How many times have we given “into” the customer — granted them a refund, a comp, a credit, whatever, yet still made them feel bad about it? And we did that because we wanted to make sure that they knew, that we knew, that they had pulled a fast one. That “we’d let them get it this time,” even though we were right and they were wrong. How very generous, right?
Steve’s point was that if you admit to a mistake and decide to correct it, do it without condition, without excuse, do it sincerely, do it with aplomb, do it without strings
attached or why do it at all? Because if you give back and are resentful about it, you are losing much more than money; you ultimately lose a customer.
I think many companies get customer mediation HALF RIGHT. How many of us have the policy that “The customer is always right,” but it is still a negotiation? How many of us end up with a bitter taste in our mouth when we “give in” — like we’ve lost? How many of us are pissed because we know we have to justify our “loss” to our boss? How many of us avoid that customer in the future since we are afraid they’ll ask for something more?
If our policy was “The customer is always right — and feel good about making it right,” then our customers would feel good. We’d feel good.
Accepting this lesson from Steve not only made work so much easier, he gave me a tool to be a better person.
See, there have been times when I have acquiesced with resentment. Yup, my heart wasn’t in it.
I bitched that I spent an entire Saturday moving a friend, not the half day as had been asked for; that I volunteered to stay late at work so a co-worker could make a special date; that I committed to a charity project that required much more time than I expected; that I lent money I’d probably never see again; that my husband was off having a fantastic time with the boys, while I was left to take care of the chores. And God forbid that the lonely neighbor might ask me back again!
What friend, what spouse, what person wants to accept generosity, or an apology or forgiveness when it comes with an attitude? Likewise, what customer enjoys being made to feel like a schmuck?
I decided that if I can’t give without condition, then why do it at all?
I shared this Browne-ism with a friend of mine who was leaving to spend the holidays with her in-laws and her self-involved teenage step-daughters that required a nine-hour trip in the car with their two year old and a week on an air mattress on the living room floor. She could have said “no.” But she said “yes.” She was miserable before she even got in the car. Ultimately, the gift she was giving her husband and her in-laws would be tarnished by her resentment. She made the decision to to lose the ‘tude and put her energy into making the very best of it.
Think about GIVING WITHOUT CONDITION. It sure feels a hell of a lot better than being ungenuine.
Thanks for the gift, Steevo.
Originally published by Raving Consulting