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Customer Experiences Are Like Snowflakes

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No two are alike!

And believe me; some are more beautiful than others. Here are two recent service experiences I had – one stellar, one horrible – that illustrate just how important great CX is to customer retention. As you read them, see if you can spot any customer service lessons Vicki writes about in her Shareworthy Service posts:

Sofa Cushion Story

I needed new cushion inserts for a sectional in my den, so I made a few calls to local upholsterers. Upholstery pros must be very busy, because only one actually answered my call during business hours. The woman I spoke with at Jim’s Upholstery was so friendly and helpful; she presented several options for getting them what they needed (measurements, etc.) to complete the project. I opted to take my cushions into their shop, just to be sure the new inserts would fit.

When I arrived at the shop, the business owner spotted me through his front window. He immediately ran out, propped his front door open and carried the cushions in for me. Once inside, he asked me a few thoughtful questions: Why was I ordering new inserts? Had I had any other issues with the sofa? How much longer did I think I would keep the sectional? He listened to my answers, measured everything, and then offered two solution – without any upsell pressure.

My sofa has some age on it, so I chose the cheaper option. He wrote up the order, explained the timeline and wouldn’t take a deposit for the custom-ordered materials (he said I looked trustworthy). It was a holiday weekend, so he loaded the cushions back in my car so I could use the sofa over the long weekend.

When I dropped my cushions back off at their shop, he said he’d have them ready in three days. I received a call from their shop after just two days, though, because their supplier didn’t deliver the insert materials on time. Rather than waiting on them, the owner called another vendor and rush-ordered materials for me. When he contacted me, he’d already developed a solution to the problem – and apologized for the hassle.

I wound up getting the cushions just one day after the promised date. They looked and felt great! And while I did experience a small service issue, I honestly didn’t care because the people at the shop were proactive, transparent and just plain nice.

Hotel Horror

A few weeks ago, I made a simple reservation through an online hotel-booking site (I won’t mention the site name, because I’m not a troll). When I needed to change my reservation from 3 nights to 2, however, that’s where “simple” ended – and my time-sucking, extremely frustrating, service nightmare began.

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow; suffice it to say that it took 3 phone calls (totaling nearly an hour) over a 2-day period for me to change the reservation.

And then it got bad.

A week before my stay, I got a cheery confirmation email stating that I’d be billed for all 3 nights. ?!!?! I’d already worked hard to resolve the issue once – and even had emails from the booking site to prove it – but I had to start the process all over again.

Another round of phone calls. Another 30 minutes of my life gone. And after it was all said and done, I had absolutely no faith in the rep who said I wouldn’t be billed for a third night. So, instead of enjoying the start of my weekend getaway, I worried about the hassle I might have to go through upon check-in, to prove that I’d really changed my reservation.

Ultimately, I was only billed for two nights, but I can promise you that I’ll never use that booking site again.

The takeaway?

While I ultimately got what I wanted in both situations, my experiences were dramatically different. And you know what? I’ll tell everyone I know about the amazing experience I had with Jim’s Upholstery (if you live on the west side of Cleveland and need upholstery work done, give them a call!). And while I didn’t name the booking site in this post, we all know people who love to vent on social media – and aren’t afraid to trash a company’s reputation in addition to taking their business elsewhere.

Customer experiences are like snowflakes. How special are the ones you deliver for employers and job seekers?

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