3 QBQ! Stories: Customer Service Do’s & Don’ts

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Please enjoy—and share on—outstanding customer service “Do’s and Don’ts” based on three QBQ! The Question Behind the Question readers’ personal experiences!


1. Do This: “Caring, Competent, Committed Manager”

My wife, Denise, placed hoagie orders by phone at a nearby shop and then picked them up.

My order was correct and tasty, but Denise’s sandwich was not: wrong bread, wrong meat, wrong topping. Disappointed, she decided to throw it out and have a bowl of cereal. I encouraged her to call the shop. She was hesitant, reasoning they’d offer her a coupon for a future freebie which wouldn’t help now. But, I gently pushed her so she dialed.

The manager, Ashley, quickly apologized and promised to have a fresh—and correct one—made and delivered at no charge. All good. But then, just minutes later, manager Ashley appeared on our doorstep with the fresh sandwich!

When my wife expressed delight, Ashley said she didn’t want us to have to tip a delivery person, but she also didn’t want one of her drivers to possibly not receive a tip from an unhappy customer.

So, this young supervisor not only did what was right for the paying customer but did what was right for her people.

When Ashley left, I told my wife that Ashley wouldn’t be an assistant manager at a sandwich shop for long. With her character and desire to serve, she’d be moving on to bigger and better things!

Bruce Hough

2. Don’t Do This: “Three Strikes and You’re Out!”

You may have heard our beloved Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Living in Illinois and being diehard fans, I decided to order “World Series Christmas Ornaments” from The Bradford Exchange in early November. But, when nothing came, I phoned on December 23rd.

STRIKE ONE: After a way-too-long hold, I was told my shipment would arrive the next day, Christmas Eve. It came, but I was disappointed with the quality of the $50 ornaments.

STRIKE TWO: I wrote it off as a “buyer beware” lesson, knowing I’d never order from them again. In February, though, we received a Bradford Exchange box in the mail, containing an overpriced, cheap ornament and a receipt showing my credit card was charged for my “subscription.” What!?! I called the Bradford Exchange and was informed that I “must have” signed up for their an ornament subscription. When I said “prove it” they couldn’t—because I didn’t. I was told they’d refund my money in “6-10 weeks” if I would return their ornament!

STRIKE THREE: We continue to get unwanted mailings from the Bradford Exchange. Needless to say, I won’t be “playing ball” with them ever again. Go Cubbies!

Jim Wright

3. Do This: “It’s Still The Little Things”

Traveling on business, I went to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I decided on cereal and asked the waitress if it would be possible to have “Half & Half” instead of milk. She cheerfully said “Sure!” and disappeared into the kitchen. My table was located where I could see into the food prep area when the door opened. As one staff member entered the kitchen, I glanced up and saw my server tearing open a bunch of those little tiny containers of coffee creamer and pouring the contents into a ceramic pitcher. She soon returned with my cereal, a pitcher of “Half & Half,” a smile on her face, and no mention of what she’d had to do! I must say, it was a great bowl of cereal! There’s nothing like a satisfied customer! 

Bob Ginn

Which story—1, 2, or 3—is your favorite and why? Comment away!

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14 Responses

  1. #1 – That manager truly sees “the whole picture” and clearly values her customers and her employees.

  2. #3, the employee fulfilled a customer wish without hesitation nor did she let the customer know what or how she had to acheive the request.

  3. I like #3 because she did it quietly. Service with a smile, with no need for recognition or praise for the “above and beyond.”

  4. #1. We could all learn a lesson from Ashley. Most managers I have worked for will attend to customers needs but without concern for the employee. A manager I can respect!

  5. My favorite is “Caring, Competent, Committed Manager”. Not only did she do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, but her actions positively affected not only her customer, but also her employees.

  6. I personally like number 1. That demonstrates not only personal accountability, it is also a great example of emotional intelligence. Both qualities are in high demand for leadership and unfortunately the pool of leaders with those both of those characteristics is probably smaller than we would like to think. It is comforting to know that they are, for the most part, trainable behaviors in leaders who have the desire to become great. Ashley was able to have a positive impact on the players and the observers in that scenario. That is a huge win, win, win.

  7. Story #2 – not my favorite. I wonder if the writer took the time to read the fine print, as that is how Bradford Exchange works, you sign up to get one thing and are automatically signed up for future shipments of the same family of items. While the Bradford Exchange may have done some things poorly, I can’t help but think there may be some personal accountability on the part of the customer here as well. I love #1, she will go far as long as she continues to focus on the customer. And #3 is a huge asset to her organization.

  8. Story #1. I love this story because she wanted to protect her people. Winning!
    I also love this story because your wife’s call was a gift to this business. For many, her call would have been a complaint, but your wife’s call was a gift; we call it feedback. Judging by the actions of this manager, she received this valuable call as a gift and upon her return there was a discussion on better ways to take and fulfill orders more accurately. Your wife is helping this company better serve future customers. Bravo all around.

  9. I like #1 because she showed as much concern for her employees as she did for the customer. She proved that you can do both!

  10. #1 – Ashley turned a poor situation into a win/win/win: a win for the customer when she went the extra mile to solve the customer’s incorrect sandwich, a win for her employees by modeling great work place behavior for them and being mindful of their needs (the tip), and a win for her business! I bet you’ve told that story many times to many people, who then gave their business to that sandwich shop as a result. We could all learn from Ashley!!

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