Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Customer Satis-fiasco

I sat in on a webinar the other day sponsored by the American Marketing Association talking about the disconnect between Chief Marketing Officers and other C-level executives within an organization, particularly the Chief Financial Officer. The webinar facilitator maintained many CMOS fail to be credible because they don't implement accountability measures to prove the value of the initiatives they are trying to adopt. Marketing executives, he added, often hide behind catch phrases that further cause them to be dismissed. He threw out some words of his own to make the point:


montric (versus metric)

customer satis-fiction

This last phrase took on personal meaning when my wife and I were out celebrating our 22nd anniversary this past weekend at a respected restaurant near our home. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a picky eater and I seldom criticize any dish put in front of me. However, the menu item I selected tasted rather bland (chicken, so that should somewhat be taken into account) and the accompanying glazed green beans were not only tasteless but weren't completely cooked.

When the waitress returned to our table to see how we liked our meal, I was honest with her. She had recommended the meal I ended up selecting. I trusted her recommendation. A short time later, she was concerned when I told her my reaction to the food. She offered to get me something else but by this time I wasn't hungry any longer and politely refused. At this point I was disappointed that the food wasn't to my liking but I wasn't overly upset about it. I tried to communicate this to the waitress but that's obviously not the way she took it.

For the remainder of the time at the restaurant, any time she came by the table or passed by, she completely ignored me. My wife protested that I hurt her feelings. You should also know my wife felt I was rude being truthful to her about the food. I maintained that it was dishonest and unfair not to tell her the truth. I believe people who suppress such feelings are more inclined to go out and bad-mouth the business where their experience was sub-par. It was in her best interest to level with her.

But I have to tell you that her reaction to my honesty made me even more upset. Not only did she not validate the mixed feelings I had about the meal. But she ruined our anniversary celebration causing a rift between my wife and I. I will not eat in that restaurant again. This episode reminded me that in any business interaction with customers you must emphathize with them if their experience is less than satisfactory. Note I said emphathize, you don't have to agree with them totally. And you must not get your feelings hurt if they don't have the experience you want them to have. Otherwise you can make an innocuous or bad situation worse.

1 comment:

audrasteph said...

Coming working in a hotel and retail, empathy is the key. Customers will work with you if you empathize. Just put yourself in their shoes.