Customer service is one of those things that no company can do without. You may not ever see it mentioned in their budget or in their service plan (although it should be) but they have to have it. It's what keeps folks coming back to their products or services.
A couple of weeks ago Meredith Farkas referenced an experience she had with Pottery Barn for Kids. In it she discusses how the lack of service will make her re-think her interactions with the company. Rachel, over at The Liminal Librarian, discusses her negative experience with Target, and again how their lack of customer service impacts her future experience with them. Strangely enough, you notice that no one from either of those stores left a comment on the blog. Maybe they contacted Rachel and Meredith separately, but again it would be such a simple process to monitor what is being said on the web and leave a note.
I also recently had a bad experience with a company. But, I'm not going to discuss them. Needless to say like Meredith and Rachel I won't be using them ever again, nor will I refer anyone to them. Instead, I'm going to share an outstanding experience that I had. A few weeks back I ordered a pizza from Papa Johns online. I've done it a few times and mostly I didn't feel like leaving the house and the Papa Johns location is atrocious to get in and out of. The e-mail that they sent indicated 50 minutes to an hour, which is pretty standard for them. Well an hour and twenty minutes went by and no pizza, which was not standard of them. By that point I was pretty hungry and called up to ask where my pizza was (I was also a bit peeved). I got ahold of the store pretty quickly and she quickly explained that they were short staffed, drives had called out, they had been slammed and the e-mail was supposed to say 1hr to 2hr. She said in fact my pizza had just left and it was being delivered by the assistant manager (who was apparently the only one around to drive at that point.) She very quickly and profusely apologized and by that point she had done a good job of convincing me that it was genuine accident. My pizza arrived about 20 minutes later (a bit cold), but I had decided that it was an accident and I had had good experiences before with that location so I wasn't going to go any farther. I didn't complain to anyone, didn't mention it, and never contacted head quarters because they were genuinely apologetic. Although this was pretty decent customer service, it's not exceptional. But that's not the end of the story. Two weeks later I received a coupon in the mail from Papa John's saying we understand that your recent experience didn't meet my standards. We'd like to offer you a free large pizza. How awesome is that? What it means to me is that someone at the local store took responsibility. They said we screwed up, let's make it up to him. That is the power of great people.
It also made me start thinking what can we, as libraries do, when someone has a bad experience. What can we do to get them to come back again?