Customer Service is an amazing thing. Something which seems so easy and straight forward, you're helpful, friendly and essentially do as you say, providing a service.
This may seem petty to some, but this really got my blood boiling the other day. My 5 year old son was awarded an encouragement award at the local football club a few weeks ago (OK they all get them, but it didn't quell the pride, father and son both felt as he picked up his award.) The award, a certificate and a voucher for a free 6 inch sub from Subway.
We'd waited a few weeks before cashing it in, resisting the constant "Dad, (and or Mum) can we go to Subway for my prize please?" We relented until this weekend, yesterday actually, and took him to the local Subway (for those living in Melbourne, it is the Subway in Syndal). In we walk, my son, chest puffed out, announces to the store that he is there to claim his prize he won at Football.
Imagine my shock, his disappointment, and my subsequent anger when we heard the "sandwich artist" meekly announce to us that his store doesn't honour those vouchers. WTF? I checked the voucher, there was not mention of the fact that it had to be used at a particular store.
I felt for the "artist" as he had to tell us, and then had to inform his manager or franchise owner, that he had a customer on the line for him. Now they got a little more than they bargained for. My angry wife... She was brilliant! feisty, grumpy, assertive and then downright tough. (She is my secret weapon, OK not so secret now, but a weapon of mass destruction anyways!)
Let's just think about this a little, these are local franchises, not just a global conglomerate. They were presenting themselves to the local market as local supporting the community by sponsoring the local football club. When my wife spoke to the Franchisee he said, "you must understand from my point of view.... I am losing money on this" My wife responded, with a very caring and humanitarian, "well if you weren't, YOU ARE NOW".
We had something happen to us the other week when a place denied us the use of a discount voucher for an obscure unpublished reason, we paid up, and walked out feeling a little silly, pretty upset, but if it was a rule, that made (kind of) sense then OK. But this is worse, YOU'RE MESSING WITH OUR KIDS! for $6.95 (there are only 40 or so kids at this club of ours (Max out $280, although I would assume corporate would give some compensation to the franchisees for this.)
For a business supplying a local market, does doing this make logical sense? Putting a whole demographic offside? By not living up to what you had committed to do? Not many people like seeing upset kids, even worse when the one upset is one of yours, and when it is something little and ultimately inconsequential to that business and everything to that little person involved, I do scratch my head. Those of you who know my family, know, we aren't the shyest or quietest of people. Word spreads, as it does in all communities and I am letting the world know I won't be back to that particular Subway outlet (210 Blackburn Rd, Syndal VIC 3149)
and will have to be persuaded as to whether to go back to the chain at all.
The same goes for all businesses, and I know I am a little emotive about this particular event, but I've seen examples of this in other business' I have been a part of over the years. I've seen companies, place fake ads on job Boards to fill up their database, I've seen people sell a business they made look busy (which had shut down a month earlier) by getting the old staff to sit around making phone calls when the perspective buyers come through, not looking after contractors, ripping off clients or simply don't get back to people. You get a reputation for that! People won't come back to your business, unless by some freak of circumstance you have a monopoly. You are effectively peeing in your own pool, poisoning your own future
What's the old saying? Something along the lines of it takes a lot longer for a good word to get around that a bad one. And I am a sucker for positive and negative comments from others, I love my social media and well I just bought a car from a place which I only went to because of a referral we picked up from out community Network, the Kindergarten Mums - not a group to upset (or mess with their kids) by the way!
Business survive on sound business models, great service, great product and a great reputation, be careful on what you put out there for people to comment on.