Thursday, August 14, 2008

I can't get no...satisfaction?

The other day, I was in a fast food business that focuses on chicken. There was a customer who was not happy with her order. She explained that it was not done enough for her. As the issue was handed over to the shift manager, she checked the chicken. The shift manager explained that the chicken was fully cooked and she had cooked it herself.

The customer wanted another order. The shift manager explained how she cooked the chicken for the required time and that all of the chicken was similarly prepared. She offered to refund the customer's money. The customer insisted that she wanted another order of chicken. The manager gave her the option of a refund or keeping her original order.

I was very interested in this exchange, because of that old (false and incomplete) adage--the customer is always right. While the customer is always right about his/her expectations, that does not change the reality of the business. Unless the manager believed this was a bad piece of chicken, giving away more of the same doesn't make the customer happy, it just makes the restaurant less profitable. Good for the shift manager.

All customer satisfaction is not equal. In some cases what we expect is not even close in different industries. The average level of service we expect from the cable company is far different than our expectations from an internet retailer.

Before you paint me with the "doesn't get customer satisfaction" brush. let me say that it is important to deliver a high level of service to your customers. Doing so should get you more business if you understand how to make their experience a memorable one.

However, if your best is not good enough for them, you have to make a business decision. Are we going to get better or do we believe our level of accomplishment is good enough? If you have no plans to get better, target customers that like your level of accomplishment and quickly get the others out of your business.

It is better to not have customers that you will not satisfy, than to keep them around. The more they show up, the more your happy customers start to wonder if their level of approval is appropriate.