In my previous post, I expressed a dissatisfaction with Firehouse Subs customer service, or what I perceived as a lack of service.
A few updates:
Firehouse Subs did something that many businesses do not do. They contacted me.
They used the only contact information available to them, which was the Contact Me page with an email address. I was impressed with Paul D. Belle’s response because as the Firehouse Subs Area Representative, he obviously was someone who was alerted to my dissatisfaction and actually did something about it. He wrote a very nice email to me, asking if I would be kind enough to explain the situation so they could rectify it. We corresponded, and the manager of the location I visited was brought into the conversation. All ended well.
The culprit was a cordless phone.
I’m not a fan of cordless phones, mainly because they get misplaced too easily and the battery has the lifespan of a fruit fly. But that’s just me. I discovered Firehouse Subs’ cordless phone had died and that was why it rang without an answer. So after my complaint, and a very courteous conversation with both Mr. Belle and the manager, it was nice to know it was a “technical malfunction” more than anything else.
We’re all in the customer service business. Here are some ways to use this information for your own service recovery plan:
Whenever you’re faced with a dissatisfied customer, listen to them. It’s human nature to defend yourself or justify a certain action or conversation. It’s also difficult not to respond in kind if someone is losing their temper and taking it out on you. Resist the urge. Calmly listen to the customer and repeat their dissatisfaction phrases back to them so they know they’ve been heard. (i.e., “So if I heard you right, Ms. Smith, you were angry because you had to drive across town to return this product only to discover they only receive returns by mail?”)
After listening, provide solutions. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than to vent their concerns and be met with a half-hearted, “Sorry for your trouble. We’ll look into it.” A customer wants resolution. Provide a clear option to her and then ask, “Does that sound fair?” If it doesn’t, ask the customer what would be fair. You may be surprised that all she wants is to make the problem known so something can be done about it.
Follow up with the customer. This is perhaps the most overlooked part of the service recovery process. It may be the most difficult part because so often customer providers get busy and drop the ball on following up with dissatisfied customers. Develop a methodology for your follow-up. It can be automated to a degree, but a personal phone call or email will always trump a form letter. Let the customer know that you’re interested in their satisfaction. If you get this one right, you’ll most likely have a customer for life.
Customer service is all about trust and showing your customer you care about their business. Too many businesses take the customer for granted because they don’t focus on their concerns. Firehouse Subs did an excellent job in reaching out to me, even when I chickened out and didn’t let the manager know my true feelings. We both learned something.
Meanwhile, I’ve become even more of a faithful fan of Firehouse Subs. Thank you, Firehouse Subs, for caring. And, for continuing to deliver the best and tastiest subs in town!