Over the years of speaking to business owners, I’ve had dozens of conversations about the subject of customer satisfaction and money back guarantees. As I dig through the company’s Unique Selling Point, often I’m forced to ask tough questions about their inside reality and why people should buy from them versus their competitors. In today’s post we’ll look at why companies should care about their customers enough to guarantee their product or service and be willing to put their money where their mouth is.
Our Olive Garden Fiasco
Darden Restaurants, in my opinion are excellent operators for the most part. They have some of the most known restaurant chains around. Their brands include the Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Longhorn Steakhouse. Let me be careful to say that the story I’m about to share, isn’t typical for Dardin, as normally they have great service. The story starts out on a sunny day in beautiful Vero Beach Florida. My wife’s entire family gathered together for a lunch at Olive Garden. After sitting down, my sister-in-law and I ordered our favorite soup. We ordered ONLY Soup and Salad as I was starving and wanted my food fast. We waited… and waited… and waited. About 15 minutes later, we were told the soup was being made and it will be out soon. The food took almost 45 minutes from ordering to the table and our soup arrived after the food. Through out the entire meal, there were problems as some of our people were nearly dying of thirst because the lack of water on the table. My girls were going crazy too wanting more to drink on this warm afternoon.
While some people are quick to take things out on their server, I’m not. She was very kind and apologized. I knew it wasn’t her fault. Inside, I still wasn’t happy. I decided that if the manager came out and dared to ask me how everything was, I’d let him know. As he appeared to our table, I waved my hand to get his attention. I was kind, but poured out my dissatisfaction about the problems we were having. He said he’d get right on it and eventually the soup did come. We finished eating, paid the bill, left a good tip, and were on our way without any further dialog from the staff or manager.
What Went Wrong Here?
Honestly, I’ve had worse service before. It wasn’t horrendous, but enough for me to remember it as I write this post today. Inside I wasn’t happy. I still carry that slight offense today and if someone mentions “Olive Garden”, the memory of the Vero Beach Olive Garden comes back up. As a business owner myself, I understand that sometimes things happen. Staff may call in sick, trucks are late, and customers order something that isn’t in stock. I wasn’t asking for a free ride. I actually didn’t ask for anything, but left feeling cheated by Olive Garden.
In my opinion, there were a few things that went wrong on that day. First of all, the server should have found out the ETA for the soup and food. Secondly, she could have told us that they were understaffed and the food is taking a little longer. That would have changed my expectations and the kind of soup I would be ordering. Next up, the manager could have come back to us and apologized for the long delay in the food. That alone would have made us feel like he cared and Olive Garden was good people. By doing these things, Olive Garden wouldn’t lose money and we’d at least feel better.
What Changes Frowns To Smiles
Because the service and food were not terrible, no one could really pitch a fit about it. It was just very close to the boarder of being bad. What if, the manager said, “Guys, I’m so sorry about this. We’ve been slammed today. Can I make you guys a special dessert on the house?” Or, “Man, we were slammed with everyone wanting that same soup today. I want to give you guys a coupon for a free soup and salad when you return next time.”
My frown would have been turned upside down and I would have left feeling valued and knowing that I didn’t actually have to spend money for the soup that almost never came.
People Don’t Expect Guarantees
Business Owners should realize that people don’t expect guarantees. Most of the time, we expect to be treated poorly. Businesses don’t even really have to mention their guarantees, but they should be on the look out for those who deserve them. Guarantees shouldn’t be gimmicky, but rather straight forward and simple. When someone isn’t happy, it is the business owner or the manager’s job to find out what happened and make them happy.
At my company, we have external and internal guarantees. An internal guarantee is simply what we know we’ll do to make things right for a client. External is what we advertise we’ll do if things are not right. With my marketing clients, we don’t tie people to guarantees and we always try to over deliver. Sometimes that means we make less and have to add more services, but in my heart I know we’ve done our best for a client.
You see, I realize that I’m not in the “marketing” business. I’m in the “PEOPLE” business. People must come first. We’ve innovated to become good at what we do. On average, we over deliver and I’m proud of our business models, service, and what we’re building. But it isn’t perfect. Sometimes things break. Sometimes good ideas don’t pan out. If something goes wrong and I find out about it, I have to make every effort to make it right.
Are You on the Look Out?
So more than likely you haven’t thought through or written out your policy for unhappy customers. It is time to start thinking about it. You should not only be thinking about it, but aggressively looking for those unhappy customers. Why? Because even if they don’t tell you all the bad things they think, they will tell others. Your reputation as a business can rise or fall based upon how you treat people. Offering a money back guarantee and customer service policy for upset customers will create a climate in your organization where customers know that you care. You have a plan of action to make things right.
When customers feel the love you give, they will reciprocate this as well and become customers for life. Remember that it isn’t about being perfect, but about the willingness to find solutions when things go bad.