retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding yesterday’s “OffBeat” comments about glitches at a newly opened Burger, Shakes & Fries restaurant in Connecticut, MNB user Laurie Crosby wrote:

Good customer service is a treat.

You are absolutely right that BSF should have been prepared for anything to go wrong.  It should have been a main topic of the management meeting prior to opening, "be prepared" "expect the unexpected" "first impressions will either open the door or close it". Opening a new fast food burger joint is not rocket science.  Hopefully they don't need the "free coupons" on their grand opening, but it sure would have been nice to have them in their back pocket.

We ski at Seven Springs Resort in PA and they unveiled a new high speed lift two years ago. Apparently it did not occur to anyone that the lift was new and there is a possibility that "anything can happen".  Many times the lift stopped working and people were stranded for 2 to 10 minutes.  At one point, the lift was inoperable for over an hour with stranded customers 30-40 feet in the air.  I would like to be able to tell you that the lift operators handed out free coupons for hot chocolate or coffee as they helped the customers off the lift and apologized for the mishap . . . . but I can't. Or an even more valuable coupon for a free ski day or free snowtubing (that would cost them absolutely nothing.)  Will those customers come back even if you don't give them a peace offering?  Yes, they will.  But what kind of reputation do you want your business to have?

Good management has plans in place on how to offer good customer service 100% of the time. When a business is truly at fault, it starts with a heartfelt, sincere apology.  If this can be delivered, it is sometimes all you need.

Also on the subject of customer service, but this time focusing on the online venue, we got the following email from an MNB user:

I felt compelled to write this morning, based on my recent on-line experience with two majors - Toys R Us and  Here's how it played out.  

I received the "wish lists" from the grandkids on Wednesday, Dec 1 and thought, thankfully, most items could be found at Toys R Us.  I went to the website and discovered not just one, but all four items I was searching for on-line were either "item not found" or "out of stock".  I then went to and not only found all the items I needed, but received suggestions for other items that would either compliment those I was intending to buy (batteries, AC adaptors, etc.), or for products purchased by others who had bought the items I was placing in my basket.  

So, not only did I find and order all four items that I needed, I bought two additional gifts.  This was yesterday, Dec 2.  By this morning, Dec 3, I received an email confirmation that ALL ITEMS HAVE SHIPPED and are on their way, wrapped and ready for Christmas!

I'm guessing that Toys R Us may have the items I was searching for, but either their site was malfunctioning or the items are stocked only in their brick-and-mortar stores and not available on-line.  Too bad.  They lost my on-line sale of $200 +, and I won't be back.

BTW...Toys R Us had similar problems a few years ago, and it was a disaster. Which led the company to sign a fulfillment deal with Amazon, which cleaned it up and got Toys R Us back on track. Which in turn led Toys R Us to retake control of its online business again.

And, at least in this case, drive the train right off the rails all over again.
KC's View: