Had a friend relate a customer service story I thought appropos.Seems his airline (who shall remain nameless, but let’s just say that bankruptcy filings are not too far in their past history) lost his bags, left them on the ramp, they got rained on, ruined all the contents, and then were found and returned.  My friend wrote a very direct letter to the company expressing his displeasure with how the situation was resolved.  Paraphrased, here is their response:”Thank you for contacting Fly By Night Airlines.  We always enjoy hearing from our Super Gold World Medallion members.  From your letter, we are assuming that you have had some recent trouble that is bothering you.  While we are never happy to hear that things did not go as planned, we must inform you that we contract out our baggage handling service, so this isn’t our problem.  We are forwarding your letter to their customer service department.  If you have further issues, you can contact them.“Which is bad on so many levels.  First, don’t try to reword perceived ills and by implication dump the problem back on the user.  “We are assuming…” — my friend stated very clearly what the problem was.  No assumption required.  Next, apologies followed by a declaration of innocence aren’t taken very well.  You may not be happy, but you don’t intend to suffer any because of it.  And lastly, the public face is always guilty.  If the customer buys their tickets from Gone Ape Baggage Handling, then forward the complaint to Gone Ape.  But he bought the ticket from Fly By Night, so Fly By Night is responsible, whether they actually caused/had the problem or not.  This applies to leadership in general.  The boss is responsible.  The cashier who faces the customer is responsible.  The person who sends the email is responsible.  The interface point is what the customer (or employee) sees, not the organizational structure behind the activity.

If you care about your image, handle problems and complaints yourself without excuse.

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