Today, I observed a customer service interaction that had me thinking back to an article I read from my Paper.li site. Here is the link if you would like to read it.
I was in my local Best Buy store today returning a pair of headphones that I purchased for my son this past Christmas. I purchased the service plan Best Buy offers in the event something went wrong. This was my second time returning the headphones, so I said why don’t we see if we can just get a gift card for the replacement and have you purchase something different.
While I was waiting in line, I could not help but overhear the discussion that was taking place between a customer and the Best Buy representative. There seemed to be some kind of discrepancy with a pair of ear buds and the service plan. From what I gathered the customer purchased a pair of ear buds (or someone purchased them for him) and purchased the service plan for the earbuds. As their conversation went on, this seemed to be the second time (or more than once) that the ear buds malfunctioned and was returned. Well, this time the service plan was not purchased. The Bust Buy representative was trying to explain that she would not be able to replace the ear buds, because the service plan had not been purchased. The customer was trying to explain that the earbuds were not working and he wanted them to be replaced.
Well, this exchange went back and forth for a bit. Finally the Best Buy representative used the words that put the customer over the edge. Can you guess? “….. out of our policy” . I imagine the Best Buy representative was indicating the ear buds was past the return policy (14 days I believe). So she was not even able to do a return. Oh Boy! I thought to myself this is not going to be a pretty outcome. In a loud and direct voice the customer said, “What are you going to do for me?”
By this time another representative had came on the line to help me. I was concerned that my purchase would not be supported by my service plan because even though the headphones malfunctioned the same as before an intervention of super glue was used to try and fix them this time (I was hoping that I would not get questioned about that). After explaining the problem to the representative he was able to issue a refund and we were off to use the Best Buy gift card for a different brand of headphones.
I couldn’t help but to think how the scenario played out between that customer and the Best Buy representative. We didn’t stay to see the outcome. The thing that stuck in my brain though was the “out of policy comment” . I wondered what could have be done for that customer so that a pleasant experience could have been delivered. I do have a couple of suggestions.
- Maybe offer some type of discount to the customer for the ear buds that could not be replaced.
- Explaining with empathy that if the service plan is not purchased on items, that Best Buy is not able to issue a replacement. (I’m not sure if the Best Buy representative offered an apology or not)
- Try to see if there could be a better fit for the customer. The customer did have a gift card. Maybe there was a brand of ear buds that would he could have purchased with the amount on his gift card.
- Offer a one time exception to the policy. Could Best Buy have done this for the customer?
I do have to say that the Best Buy representative never lost her cool. She was calm with the customer and explained multiple times. However, It seems that once she exhausted all the explaining, she used the “It’s our policy” standard to defuse the customer. This was not what the customer wanted to hear. It’s true because he went right to, “What are you going to do for me ?”.
What are your thoughts on this one? How could this customer experience have been changed from a moment of misery to a moment of magic (words from my Twitter friend Shep Hyken) ?
Customer service is real and we should work extremely hard to be sure we are delivering exceptional service to the customer at each interaction. I hope the Best Buy representative and the customer worked out an acceptable solution. Remember, the customer should always be the priority and not made to feel like they are the problem.
Let me know your thoughts. Please share if you feel what you have read is good information that others would benefit from by reading.