Never to part (with your customers)

In the movie, License to Wed, there’s a funny scene that offers a useful customer service lesson.  A reluctant groom stops in a jewelry store to pickup the rings for his wedding. As he looks at his ring he notices something wrong with the inscription. It was supposed to say:

“Never to Part”

Instead it said something else. The person doing the inscription thought the “P” was an “F”. (I’ll let you figure out what the ring said.)

The groom brings this to the store clerk’s attention. Rather than apologizing and working on a solution, the clerk avoids eye contact with the customer and calls another employee over. He asks her what she thinks it says. of course, she agrees with her co-worker.

The customer continues his protest so they call more employees into the fray. To combat the employee’s action, the customer drags another customer into it to support his side of the argument.  But his cause is lost because everyone else in the store agrees it’s an “F” not a “P”. ( See the clip here. It’s very funny.)

The lesson here is clear:

If enough employees  think the customer is wrong then they are. The way to resolve a service issue is to vote on who’s right and who is wrong. If the company gets the most votes then the customer loses and nothing more needs to be done.

Of course this is ridiculous. And watching the movie, it’s hilarious.  But it’s not necessarily fiction.

This sort of “customer service” actually happens. I’ve seen it. I think we all have. All it takes is an employee with a bad attitude or a competitive streak. Their focus is on who’s right rather than how to fix the problem.

While we can laugh at this extreme example we should also keep it in mind as a useful tool. Use it to evaluate how you interact with customers in service issue situations. Does any part of your process involve focusing on the blame or the cause rather than a solution?

The more time your employees (or processes) focus on blame rather than solutions, the more customers you will lose. They will part ways with you and never come back.