Dissatisfied Customer

Appliances Is a small family-owned store that has been In operation for 47 years in Billings, Montana. The store employs 16 employees in two locations. Most customers are local residents, but there is a steady flow of customers from nearby smaller towns and cities. Most customers shop at Newswomen store that is located in a large shopping mall outside of Billings. On an average weekday, Newswomen two stores, combined, get 80 to 150 Walworth customers.

On Saturdays overall hundred customers patronize the two stores. Of the frontline employees (sales, customer service, and credit staff), most have been with the company at least five years. No formal classroom training on effective customer service techniques Is offered to the staff. However, each employee Is encouraged to attend one professional development workshop or community college course each year. Mr.. Newswomen pays 75 percent of the cost of such courses. You were hired as a customer service assistant eight months ago after you graduated from high school.

You report to the customer service supervisor, Gunny Hall. In school, you took a couple of business courses and have read numerous books on sales and customer service. You hope for career advancement in this field. On Saturday morning Mr.. And Mrs.. Waylay Somers came into your store. Both are senior citizens and longtime Billings residents. They have made numerous purchases at Newswomen over the past 18 years. The Somers bought a sofa bed last week, and it was delivered on Friday. The sofa had been a floor model, and the price had been reduced by 50 percent.

The tag on the sofa said “as Is” because there was a large tear In the mattress cover. Your Role: When Mr.. And Mrs.. Somers came into the store, they proceeded directly to the customer service department. As they approached, you smiled, said good morning, and offered to assist them. The following conversation occurred: Mr.. Somers [without acknowledging your greeting]: Where’s Gunny? You [smiling]: Slings off today, sir. May I help you? Mr.. Somers: Whereas Tom Newswomen? Mrs.. Somers: We bought a sofa bed here, and when they delivered it, I found a big hole in the mattress.

My son and his wife will be here on Wednesday. I can’t have them sleep on that old thing. I’d be too embarrassed. Mr.. Somers: I can’t believe you’d sell something like that to a loyal customer. Do you have any idea how much money we’ve spent in this store over the past 18 years? You: Eighteen years is a long time to shop at a store. We appreciate your business. I’m terribly sorry that the sofa was damaged, I can’t believe our warehouse would ship a damaged piece of furniture. Mr.. Somers [raising his voice]: Well they sure did! I Just told you they did!

Don’t you believe me? You: I’m sorry sir. I didn’t mean that you weren’t telling the truth. I meant that I was surprised that we’d do that. Do you have your sales receipt? I’ll see if I can’t help work his out. Mrs.. Somers: We’ve got to have a sofa by Wednesday. My daughter-in-law comes from a very nice family in Virginia. I’d die if she saw that old thing you sent. You: Yes, ma’am. I’m sure we can fix the problem. Mr.. Somers: I don’t want anything fixed. I want a new sofa before Wednesday. The last time I bought something here, you people messed up the order too.

I guess I should have learned my lesson then. You: I apologize for any inconvenience we’ve caused. I can assure you we’ll get this worked out. If you’ll Just give me your receipt, I’ll get started. Mr.. Somers: I’ll have to go see if it’s in the pickup. Hold on. Ma, you wait here. You [Mr.. Somers has returned with the receipt]: I think I understand why your sofa has a damaged mattress. The sofa was a floor model discounted 50 percent and sold as is. Mrs.. Somers [voice raised]: What do you mean, “as is”? We paid a lot of money for that sofa!

You: Yes, ma’am, I see you did. What I mean is that because the sofa had some damage, we reduced the price significantly to sell it. Mr.. Somers: Well nobody told us the thing was damaged. I want to talk to Tom right now. You call him at the other store! Since you saved 50 percent off your sofa, if we could exchange mattresses for say, 50 extra dollars, you’d still be saving hundreds off the original price. You could have the mattress by Monday, and your daughter-in-law would never know. What do you think? Mr.. Somers: Well, I don’t know.

I didn’t want to spend any more money. Mrs.. Somers: Lou, that young salesman did say that we were getting a really special price because of some minor damage. Mr.. Somers: Yeah, I guess maybe he might have mentioned the damage. We Just didn’t know the hole would be as big as it is. You: I am truly sorry for any misunderstanding, and I wouldn’t want Mrs.. Somers to be embarrassed. That’s why I suggested the exchange. What do you think, folks? Mr.. Somers: Okay. But you better have it there by Monday at the latest. You [smiling]: Yes, sir. You’ll have it by 3 P.

M. , or I’ll deliver it myself. Mr.. Somers [smiling]: Thanks, kid. To help better prepare yourself to deal with difficult customer service situations, respond to the following statements. On the basis of any “no” responses, seek out resources (e. G. , materials, training programs, and people) that can help broaden your knowledge on these topics. If you answered “yes” to all the questions, congratulate yourself, then work to share your knowledge with others in your workplace. This can ultimately help improve employee morale and service to customers.