Brand loyalty and customer service

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a while, but I’m a bit behind. What are your thoughts on a company’s customer service duties should you try a new product that you don’t like? Should they give you your money back? Or, should they make up for the disappointment in another way? Or, do you find the risk lies solely with the consumer? I’ve listed a few of my experiences below as examples or terrible and excellent customer service. Compare them to your own and share. Remember, feedback is good, but make sure you balance it out somehow.

In high school, I was at TGI Friday’s with some friends when a table busser accidentally dropped a side of barbecue sauce on the floor right next to me. Unfortunately for me, the loaded sauce cup bounced off the floor and covered me with bbq sauce from head to toe. My jeans, my shirt, my body, and even my light tan coat had a LOT of stickey, smelley bbq sauce all over them. The manager’s response was to offer me reimbursement for my dry cleaning. Really? No free meal, no coupons, nothing! Just me having to drive way back out there on my own time to get $9 for a dry cleaning that couldn’t even get the stain out of my coat. How is that acceptable? All of our meals should have been free and I should have been given a gift certificate for the trouble. It really was a horrible situation, and I never forgot it. If you know anything about me, you know I go out to eat often. Except by force maybe once or twice about 4 years ago, I haven’t been to TGI Friday’s since that day, and I will never eat there again because of it. I also tell everyone I know about the experience. If they had given me a $100 gift certificate, I would have been that happiest person ever and told everyone about it. Instead they have lost out on thousands of dollars of business from me and the dozens of people I eat with who want to eat there but can’t because I refuse. Shame on you TGI Friday’s. Almost ten years of boycotting and still going strong.

Another bad experience I had was when I went to the Olive Garden with my friends and the waitress literally did everything in her power to argue with and ignore us. She argued with me the soda pop she filled for me was diet when everyone at the table tried it and confirmed it was regular. But really, even if I was just being annoying, why argue? Just refill it. Then we tried some new menu items and hated them, so all we wanted was more salad and breadsticks. Apparently this was too much to ask and she would send another server over once in a while to give a refill. It was infuriating and we were literally starving–and told her so–when we got there. I complained with my receipt on the OG Web site. I was hoping I would get a $10-15 gift certificate to recover the cost of the meal. They were extremely apologetic and sent me a $50 to help rebuild my confidence in Olive Garden. Since then, I have happily been to the OG many times. Good job Olive Garden, but I would still beef up the service standards at the stores in the Cleveland area because the service has still been spotty a few times since.

inally, I recently wrote Scrubbing Bubbles to tell them I wasn’t happy with my new Automatic Shower Cleaner. It wasn’t working as well as the previous unit, which I loved by the way. These units aren’t cheap when you buy a couple refills, so I asked if I could have some coupons for the Mega Shower Foamer to help make up the cost. Scrubbing Bubbles Mega Shower Foamer is the best shower-cleaning product ever. You don’t have to do any work and it’s done cleaning in like 5 minutes. All you do is rinse it off, and you’re gross dirty shower is clean–I love it! Scrubbing Bubbles came through for me and sent me 5 Mega Foamer coupons ($20-25 worth) plus other valuable coupons. I was very satisfied, and I recommend that everyone buy Mega Shower Foamer immediately! YEY Scrubbing Bubbles!

We all know that negative impressions and lost customers can actually cost 10 times more than keeping existing customers happy. So, in my opinion, companies need to step up to the plate to make up for bad situations or negative experiences their customers have. On the other hand, it’s important to provide positive feedback as well. Most people only provide negative feedback, so companies only know when there is a problem. But how do they know when they’re doing something right? Well, tell them! I do try to mention to the manager or hostess when I have exceptional service or a great dining experience. Also, when I come across a Web site whose layout, useability, or their innovative approach to something is fantastic, I let them know. I also blog about a variety of products because I figure someone in these companies will have Google Alerts set up.

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