Do your customer feedback processes work?

I had an interesting experience yesterday that I thought I’d share.  It brought up several business concepts that we should all think about.  Here’s the scoop (with a little background to give you context)…

Five times a year for the past 3 years, I’ve ordered breakfast for a meeting I hold from the same establishment.  It’s a franchised company, and the folks at “my store” have always been super great!  This time, when I called to give them my order a week ahead, they let me know that I should now order through their online catering portal, as this would make it easier for us all.  I thanked them for the information and went to the portal.  It WAS easy!  I could click on what I wanted, put in my date, time and delivery info, and, voila!, my order was placed.  It even had a button so I could make it a “standing order” for my upcoming meetings.  Great!

Not so much.  The morning of my meeting, the food didn’t show up on time like it had every time before.  I finally called my folks, and they hadn’t gotten the order that I placed online.  Long story short, there was another franchisee in the area who had been sent this order from the corporate catering portal.  They were not so good.  The food finally showed up over an hour late.

I went by my store to tell them the corporate portal was costing them business.  I didn’t want the other franchise store to get my order ever again — I wanted MY STORE!  The manager gave me the corporate phone number where I could call to get them to designate his store as MY STORE for future orders.  So, I called.  The youngish sounding guy in customer service listening to my story, but didn’t seem all that interested.  I suggested that they should give the orderer a choice of locations to route the order to.  His comment “that’s not how we do it.”

Wait, there’s more.  I got an email later that day from the Regional Sales Manager for this franchise thanking me for my catering order.  It was obvious he had NO IDEA that I had experienced a problem.  So, I called him.  I shared my story and he asked lots of good questions.  He seemed to be writing everything down.  I told him I wasn’t calling to be mean, but to give feedback that I thought he might find helpful.  He seemed to accept it as it was intended.

Turns out, my original call should have resulted in a “code red” through his system, so that he would know there had been a problem and could see what was being done to resolve it.  The original guy had only put in the system that I wanted to “update my profile.”  The Regional guy was livid!!!  It was a great lesson to him about how his internal system was being used, and he wasn’t happy.

He asked if I had been offered a discount or other apology gift.  I told him that I had not, and that I wasn’t asking for that.  He said “you’re getting it anyway!”  He was very apologetic and promised to look into why the system didn’t work as it should have.  He said he and a few others would likely call me again to talk through it and offer more suggestions.  I told him I’d be happy to help.  I also made sure he knew that MY STORE had always been GREAT at meeting my needs.

Here’s the lesson, in case you didn’t get it.  Just setting up a customer feedback process isn’t enough.  You have to test it, monitor it, train people in the reason for it and make sure it helps your customers.

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