By BIK Owner Justin Lewis
As a business owner and consumer, I know how it feels to be on either side of customer service. Over the years, I have delivered and experienced both exceptional and terrible service.
Bluegrass Indoor Karting is no exception. We know what it is to screw up – probably more than we’d like to admit. While some problems are well within our control and others considered “acts of God,” the point is that our customers have certainly experienced some of our failures in meeting their expectations. Our business philosophy has always been: “No customer leaves unhappy.” This commitment means we will do everything in our power to get things right the first time. But if we miss the mark, we will make up for it – often by issuing a refund or a free race or two and always after apologizing and discussing the situation in hopes of developing a mutual understanding.
For Spring Break this year, I spent some time with family in Colorado and had the opportunity to talk business with our friends at Unser Karting. Less than 10 hours after our meeting, my flight home was unexpectedly canceled due to severe weather. I called the airline’s customer service department only to be disconnected after spending over 3 hours on hold. Of course, the disruption caused headaches for a lot of travelers. Once again, there are scenarios businesses can control (like policies involving dragging a paying passenger off their airplane for example), and then there are those events that are out of their control, such as weather. In this circumstance, the weather cannot be controlled, but the staffing and phone system can. There was no call-back option, no generic recording of “if you get disconnected, call…” There was only silence, and I felt very inconvenienced. The situation made me evaluate as a consumer: What is great customer service?
During that same week, one of our customers had an issue while racing with us. She had valid reasons for being unhappy and engaged with us in a friendly chat; however, I admit I was taken aback when she announced that she would never visit our facility again. I was grateful for her honest feedback and asked what we could do to make it right. In the end, she was happy to receive some free races and then praised us while promising to be back very soon – obviously a very different sentiment than her opening line. This made me evaluate as a business owner: What is great customer service?
As I reflect on these recent experiences, I realize that as a business owner, my first instinct is to get defensive when a consumer is angry. And then as a consumer, my first instinct is to get angry when the business is defensive. If we could rationally consider this dynamic, maybe we can all extend some grace and at least give the other side a chance. If you’re a business owner and you encounter a customer with a legitimate complaint, don’t just make it right, make it perfect. If you’re a consumer and you encounter a company who is willing to make it perfect when they get it wrong, give them a chance before getting angry or leaving negative feedback. Some of us do truly care.
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