Monday, March 16, 2009

Contrition, Consideration, Communication

Monday was one of those days where things come in threes.

We had only the one walk. Got up at 6 and waited for daylight to arrive so that we could get out walking. The temperature was 4 degrees on our return, no wonder it felt so cold as we set off. Still, it encouraged us to step out, if only to get warm. So much did we step out, that the whole walk was completed in 15 minutes less than Sunday.

The whole point of doing this so early was that we needed to be back, showered, packed, and everything stowed in the car in time for us to check out of our room by 10 a.m. The shower bit was where things started to go wrong. I was standing there, in the accustomed position slightly outside the stream of water from the shower head (I hate cold water), wearing nothing but an increasingly bemused expression, while the emerging water stayed as cold as the air outside. Gay went to reception. “Have it fixed in one minute,” was the confident reply. Ten minutes later she went to reception again. “That didn't work, I'll have to send for the boss.” Meanwhile I am sitting there like a lemon, wearing little more than the bemused expression. We kept trying the taps. It took another trip to reception before we were told the problem was fixed. No apology. No knock on the door to tell us the heater was now fixed. Customer service.

That was number one. The third was when we eventually managed to leave Hanmer, several hours later (all will become clear) and stopped at Culverden for a spot of lunch. A date scone for me (not up to the world-class standard of the two places I have recommended, in Clyde and Christchurch), a couple of drinks, and a soup for Gay. Everything but the soup arrived. We sat and sat, and eventually asked where it was. The woman behind the counter said she would see, went into the kitchen, and it immediately appeared. Obviously they had forgotten, but no apology, not even a smile. Red Post Cafe, Culverden. Won't go there again.

Back to number two hiccup of the day. After checking out of the motel we drove into town for a coffee, which was very nice. We walked back to the car and found a note on the windscreen. “So sorry, but we touched the front of your car with our campervan.” We were looking for some minor scrape on the front bumper when Gay noticed the front wing, which was caved in above the wheel. About $1000 worth of damage, we were later told. The German couple with the campervan had managed to do this while parking and had left the note saying they would then be in the thermal pools for an hour and a half.

We had them tannoyed for. They were very nervous and amazed to find that we were not furious. They started to tug on their clothes but we said we would meet them in an hour to exchange insurance details, et cetera. Which we duly did. Everything was settled very amicably. We parted on good terms and had a bit of a jokey time when we encountered them later in the day at the Mudhouse Waipara Winery (excellent).

The difference between these three incidents, and the fact that we were more annoyed by the water incident and the missing soup than by some very inconvenient and expensive damage to our car? The fact that the German couple owned up and left a note, while the two businesses had such a “take it or leave it” attitude and did not keep us informed.

It is a fact supported by much data that, while a satisfied customer is a good advert and a dissatisfied customer obviously the opposite, if you go out of your way to correct matters for the dissatisfied customer (including the magic words contrition,consideration and communication) he will then be, by a very large margin, a better ambassador for you than the one who was satisfied in the first place.

As in business, so in life.

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