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End of the Fishing Story: The Customers That Got Away

Store manager explanation clears company of wrong-doing. Now, who's going to tell all the local customers who aren't reading this?

Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editor by Ranger Kidwell-Ross, WorldSweeper's Editor

Feedback from my November editorial was more prolific than usual, so I thought it made sense to follow-up with the information that was transmitted to me by the outdoor store's manager after the newsletter was sent. If you didn't read the editorial last month, here it is.

As most of you will recall, the crux of the matter was that a fisherman broke his rod while playing a fish and then, about an hour later, loudly proclaimed to one and all that the local sporting goods store where he'd bought it wouldn't take the rod back even though he'd purchased it six days previously and had the receipt, thus tarnishing the name of the firm.

As a courtesy, I contacted the store manager and read him my article, the point of which was to illustrate what can happen as a result of customer service decisions. He was quick to call a meeting with his team and replied back that there were a number of extenuating circumstances:

The actual facts, he assured me, were that his newest employee had been unable to make a decision on replacing the pole so told the customer to come back in an hour when a manager could assist him. When the fisherman eventually returned, according to the manager, the rod was replaced. If you care to read exactly what his email conveyed, here's the link.

I now understand the store wasn't ultimately at fault and I can assure you, my readers, of that fact. However, that doesn't make a whit of difference to the store's reputation locally, since none of you were among the local fishermen/local customers who were on the streambank that day. The fisherman with the broken pole it seems spoke with an employee who lacked the training to take care of the customer on the spot; as a result, all of the people on the riverbank who were regaled by the unhappy fisherman will never know the rest of the story. They went away with a bad impression of the store and, of course, they didn't read my first editorial or this one.

The moral, in my opinion, is that keeping the customer satisfied is in no way up to the customer. This is true whether you are a municipality with a citizenry for customers or a contractor with business clients. Your organization's reputation is exposed in a number of areas, one of which is in the training of your employees. In this case, as just one example, what if the employee had offered the fisherman a 'store test rod' (which they did have on hand) to use until the manager showed up in an hour? Imagine what different message might have been relayed when the fisherman arrived back on the streambank.

Take time to roleplay possible customer service scenarios with your employees; generate an employee 'what if' FAQ sheet and add to it whenever a new situation is encountered. Expand the scenarios that occur so as to encompass any you can think of that might take place. Only by continually reinventing your business can you keep it in the forefront, especially given the level of competition waiting to step in whenever a miscue is made.

If you have questions or comments about this series of articles, please let me know.

Good Sweeping!
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