Service recovery- where is your weakest link?

I think I am fairly patient customer / guest, after all – I have worked in the service industry for 30 years. I understand that perfection is fleeting at best, and no one achieves great service alone.

That being said, I have experienced questionable service recently at a chain restaurant that I have always loved and a friend experienced financial errors and disrespectful treatment from a rental car vendor that she has used on a national basis (hint).

My experience, mildly disappointing compared to hers, but it bothers me that I didn’t speak up. Maybe because of her experience… You see, she did speak up. Knowing her, she was probably the kindest person they dealt with all day. She teaches hospitality and great service for a living. It is her passion, it resonates so deeply for her that this situation is beyond reason. She simply reserved a rental car in order to have a reliable vehicle for a long trip to a funeral. And errors do happen. When she showed up, her first credit card was over authorized and then a second one was offered. The agent made the error again. Roughly 3x the amount of the rental was taken from her cards, and then she was refused a vehicle. She knows this can happen, having worked in hotels. But she also knows that if someone makes this error, it can be fixed. A call to the banks and documents providing an explanation usually have the funds released. But no, this was not done. Knowing her, she offered solutions. This was a Thursday evening, so you would think maybe someone higher up would have fixed this on Friday even. No.

She left the car rental place place with no rental car, all funds in her accounts being held – and no way to make the funeral. There are more details that do not look better for this car rental company, but they know what they are.

Her local bank did eventually release the funds but the second card ( again, a nationally known company) took almost a full week. She never would have allowed a guest in her hotel to have their cards over authorized, and then turned them away without a solution.

She reached out to numerous people, her friends did as well. Seems so simple that one person, could have apologized and helped. But now – numerous people on social media are aware of this error and the fact that our friend who is the epitome of excellent service was so mistreated.

It makes me very aware that businesses do have to ensure they get paid, but if you take payment- you make sure the service you are paid for is provided to the guest.

Mistakes will happen, but is your practice to avoid blame and ignore the needs of your clientele? Or to apologize, take ownership and fix what was broken?

You see, once an apology is offered – then the rebuilding of your business, your brand to that person can begin. A resolution can be offered, one that fits the customers need.

My friend is still waiting. Perhaps she should have trained their staff. She never would have had to wait this long.

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