Customer Service – Right and Wrong
Yesterday concluded one of the best customer service experiences I’ve ever had. Before I tell that story, however, I’m going to tell you about one of the worst. They both happened within two weeks of one another.
My office of 3 sometimes orders lunch as a group. Often, this happens when my wife, who is a driver for us, is delivering near a restaurant we like. Because the office is so close to our house, she can easily drop something off on the way home.
On a particular day recently, we knew she’s be working right next door to a Chipotle and we were in the mood for burritos. We placed our order through the Chipotle web site and waited anxiously for our lunch to come.
Our lunch was crazy late because, apparently, the restaurant was busy as hell and even though we’d ordered our lunch early, nobody had actually pulled it off of the register yet. When my wife arrived, they told her they didn’t have an order, looked on the computer and insisted they didn’t have it and sent her away. She called the office and got the confirmation number (because we’d already paid for the order). After a long time period in which it became apparent that the manager had no idea how to operate her own computer system, the order was located.
Through all of this – even the point at which it became clear that the screw up was their fault, the manager was unpleasant and arrogant. When she finally found the order, instead of apologizing for her problem, she apologized to the other people in line for the fact that she had to make our order.
The order was, eventually, prepared and brought to the office.
And the entire order was wrong. Not little things, either. I, for instance, wanted black beans on my burrito and they gave me pinto beans. Another person got the wrong kind of meat. Everyone’s order was wrong. Most of us ate little or nothing.
So we called to complain because we couldn’t go back to the store and get new food prepared. The manager admitted that she remembered the order and told us that they were very busy over lunch so deal with it. She made no apology and she did not offer to even give us a free bag of chips to make up for the fact that we had been provided with food we didn’t eat and it was their fault. We told her that we wanted our money back and her response was – I shit you not – to hang up on us.
Frustrated by the manager’s complete unwillingness to give a fuck, we sent an e-mail to the corporate office for Chipotle. We detailed the entire experience and indicated we were extremely dissatisfied and would like our money back for the improperly prepared food that – I will remind you – we didn’t eat.
Now please understand, Chipotle is a huge company and they don’t need our business. Every Chipotle I’ve ever entered is packed with people during lunch and dinner rush. My writing about their shitty service could go viral and they still wouldn’t notice a dip in sales.
That isn’t stopping me from linking to their corporate web site every time I mention them in hopes that someone sees all the pingbacks and comes back here to figure out why I tagged them so many times.
Because what Chipotle did on that day was let me know that it wasn’t enough that they didn’t need my business. They didn’t want my business. I was, in plain point of fact, an inconvenience to them.
All of this happened, by the way, at the Shoreview Chipotle. I won’t ever go there again and I recommend you don’t either because it seems pretty clear they don’t want you there.
So let me tell you about another business that doesn’t need my business but decided that they wanted it.
Panera is every bit as busy as Chipotle over lunch. Mid December, I went into the Roseville Panera to pick up lunch for my office. It was busy and I needed to get back to the office so when I checked the bag before I left, I completely missed that a sandwich was missing.
When I started unpacking all the food and realized the sandwich was gone, I checked the receipt. Sure enough, I’d been charged for it. I just didn’t get it. It was their mistake. Checking the bag is a good idea but not a requirement because it’s their job to make sure all the food is in there.
So I called the manager to tell him about it. All I really wanted was a credit for the missing sandwich. He immediately said he remembered me (because I go in there a lot) and told me who had served me that day and asked what the problem was. I told him about the missing sandwich and he was extremely apologetic. He asked me what he could do.
I was just going to ask if he could send me a card for a free sandwich (I’d paid cash so he couldn’t put a credit on my card) when he interrupted and he said “you know what? You come here all the time. How about I just pay for your office’s next meal?”
He promised me he’d remember and just said I should ask for him the next time I came in.
So I went back today to get lunch for my office and I asked for the manager. He remembered me and remembered what he’d promised to do. He comped our entire lunch and he made sure it was right.
His name is Jerry, by the way. He’s the head manager of Panera in Rosedale. He doesn’t need your business either. But he deserves it.
I’m telling this story not so much because I want to stop people from using the Shoreview Chipotle (even though they should) or encourage people to patronize the Rosedale Panera (even though they should)..
I’m telling it because there’s a valuable lesson to be learned about customer service in work and in life. If you screw up and you own it, apologize and try to make it right, people will forgive you and they will love you for it.
If you screw up and decide to tell the person who suffered as a result of your mistake to piss off, you might not go out of business but you will ensure that at least one person never says anything good about you.
And seriously Chipotle, would you rather I was saying nice things about Panera or you?
Update: Someone tweeted this blog to Chipotle and now they are talking to me. I have to give a “good job” shout out to their social media group. Turns out I should have used Twitter to complain.
Update #2: There was, apparently, a response to the complaint e-mail. I’ll fill in what happened there once I get more details. What I don’t believe ever happened was an offer to refund the money.
Update #3: The original responses from the corporate office did not include any sort of apology for the bad experience and they sent one 2 for 1 burrito card. Not the same as giving us our money back for three burritos we didn’t eat. Still talking with their Social media person, though.
Final Update: Joe, who handles Chipotle’s Twitter account, did a great job. He not only managed to work through my misspellings (I type too fast) but he followed up on the situation and we’ve been offered our money back plus a couple of free burritos. I’m still not going to patronize the Shoreview store but I’ll give the folks at Chipotle a lot of credit for regognizing they had a really annoyed customer and doing something about it.
As an addendum, I’m going to reiterate that my goal was to really write about the customer service experience and point out how easy it is to turn a bad experience into a good one. Kudos to Chipotle for recognizing that.