Listen, Verify, Satisfy

checklistTwo recent customer service experiences have reminded me of the importance of actively listening to our customers.  Let me start with the bad.

We recently purchased a used car and with 36,000 miles fast approaching, I compiled a laundry list of the items we thought might be covered by warranty.  I took the car to the dealer and was delighted to find out that everything on my list was covered.  Without getting into the details, there was a lot wrong with this experience.  I called them three weeks after hearing nothing to find that the replacement parts had arrived and I would need to leave the vehicle at the dealer all day.

Sometime later, I picked up the vehicle and as I was driving away, realized they did not fix a piece of trim I had pointed out.  They had replaced the WRONG PART!  At this point I flipped an illegal u-turn and went back to give them a piece of my mind.  It wasn’t a pretty exchange but they ultimately ordered the correct part and two weeks and a two hour wait at the dealer later, my laundry list was complete.

As I reflected on that experience, I of course searched for every reason to blame them.  Reading over my original paperwork, the man in the service department wrote down the wrong part.  Guess what?  I signed next to each repair to approve it.  Technically it was to blame.  Let me tell you how the signature process went.  “Here’s your estimate.  Please sign here, here, here, here, and here.”  At no point did he walk me around the vehicle to make sure he had correctly written down the list I had given him.

Ok now for the good.  Last weekend, I took the family to dinner at the local In-N-Out.  On this visit, we opted to wait in the drive-through line.  The line is so long at this particular restaurant that they have someone standing in the parking lot taking the orders.

-2 hamburgers with pickles, no onions
-1 hamburger with pickles and onions
-1 double meat, animal style, protein style
-2 fries
-1 animal fries
-1 regular pink lemonade
-1 vanilla shake split in two cups

Piece of cake right?  She read that order back to me, it was correct, and we were on our way toward the payment window.  When we pulled up to the window, I swear the guy was leaning out the window with a smile on his face.  He proceeded to correctly confirm our order, hand stickers to both of our kids, and send us on our way to get our food.  Upon pulling up to the window, the nice lady verified our order correctly AGAIN!

The best part of the whole story is that when we arrived at home, our order was 100% correct.  What a great experience!

Those are my two recent experiences in listening.  The customer service team that failed to actively listen and confirm my order, proceeded to aggravate a customer and use extra company time and resources to correct the problem.  The company that took the extra time to listen carefully and confirm what they heard, delighted a customer and got the order right the first time.  It’s a simple lesson.  Which one will you choose to learn from and emulate?

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

One comment

  • Thanks, Jeremy. Thanks a lot. Now I’m craving In-n-Out.

    Seriously – they are consistently excellent. You always know what you’re going to get from them and it’s good. I don’t eat much fast food anymore, but they are top of my list when I do.

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