How Expensive Is Good Customer Service?

Ok, so I would like to relate a story that happened to me just this past week. But before I do, I would like to post a simple question. Be thinking about this question as you read this post (rant).

Q. How much is customer service worth to your organization?

This a true story: (company names changed to protect the innocent)

Today 2/3/09 I went to store #11814 to use a 2 for $5.00 (sourdough bacon-cheesburger) coupon that I had gotten in a flyer in the mail. I will say that the experience was one of the worst, most unproffesional experiences that is POSSIBLE at a fast food location. The worst part was the follow-up with your corporate center by contacting Consumer Relations department at 555-1212

So here is the story.
At 1:43pm (actually started at 1:36pm) my friend and I entered the store and started the process of ringing up a simple order for a sandwich and fries (nothing more). I presented the coupon to the attendant (manager called him Mohamed, but I did not read his tag), and asked for that with a Large Fry. The coupon was for two sourgough bacon cheeseburgers for $5.00. This is where everything went downhill.

The attendant tried to charge me $10.01 for the order (most expensive fries I would have had). I told him it was wrong, so then he voided my order and tried to get the managers attention. She was irratated that she had to help him. She gave him her manager pass to override anything that he wanted with no oversight at all (that cannot be right). Next he attempted to try again, and even with the managers key he could not figure it out. He again voided a transaction, and this engraged the manager who made the statement “You need to know what your doing, you keep voiding this and that…. Talk to your brother”. I felt bad for the person at the register and he clearly was hurt by this public degration.

So, now the manager comes over and makes an attempt to try and get the order to work. She fails, and starts muttering to herself (including explicit words). She continues to bash the person that started to take my order as she let our her frustration with the computer system. Both of them continued to blame the computers for having bad data, and such. This should not be any of my concern, or should you be telling me the consumer that your computers are untrustworthy and yet you still want my CC if that is how I am paying.

Let me remind you now, that we have had 3 people (mohamed, his brother and the manager) try and ring this order up. I have been holding the line up for over 5 minutes as I stood and watched this comedy show and just praying that my order comes out right.

Finally the manager figures out how to make a special order, and charges me $7.51 for the sandwich and fries (at this point I would have paid the $10.01 just to get out of the store). I pay cash, get my change and wait for food.

As this all going on, the client in front of my had STILL not gotten his food, as there were 3 people trying to ring up my order and he says something about it. The manager, tells the client “Sir, I know you do not have all day, but I am working on something over here” and proceeds to ignore the client for a short period, but finally gets him his food.

So, finally I get my food, and am out the door. I will not recount the ordeal my friend went thorugh behind me (repeat) as he had a coupon for two whopping burgers for $5.00.

So, fast forward 15 minutes when I am back at the office and start to eat my burgers only to found that I got two sourdough hamburgers (no cheese or bacon). So that was the last straw. I decided to call the consumer relations line and report the worst experience in my life at a Burger Place. This is where the story gets even more fun.

I ring the line, press option #3, then #1 (of course I have to hit a button to continue in english).   This nice (indifferent) lady gets on the phone and I explain the situation to her. She asks me if I would like to leave a name, and I do. She tells me she will email the district manager about the problem…. Thats it!

As you can see from my story not ONCE did anyone offer to make things right. Not once did they even ask what they can do to try and help keep me as a customer. Not once did anyone even care that this horrible experience happened, let alone shared by more then one person. I can say with ease that I am tossing out the remaining coupons and going to McBurger Place, Pigtail Girl Burgers or any other place that actually cares.

The biggest kicker is that I start to recall this story to my co-workers (the Burger Place is 6 blocks from our office) and one of my co-workers says thatshe will ONLY go there for Coffee now as they screw up the orders so much it is impossible for them to mess that up. That is such a telling statement I do not know what is.

As you can see from the post not only did they loose a client, but they lost 3 (me, my co-worker). So how expensive is that?

Lets run some simple math. If you assume the average cost of eating out at a fast food place is $6.00, and many people in the office world eat out 3X a week, that is $18.00 a per person per week or $54.00 a week in our little example (3 people). That is $216.00 a month, and $2592.00 a year for those three people.

This simple math is not taking into effect that each of those people will on a average tell 10 other people about the bad experience and those people will tell 3 others. So each person is equal really to 14 peoples says lost. That is $294.00 a week, $1176.00 a month and $14,112.00 per year per person in our equation ($42.336.00 a year for our three people in the office.) Lets not even take into effect the blog effect that happens everyday when things like this happen.

That is an EXPENSIVE mistake in my opinion.

So, we go back to the simple question that I asked earlier: How much is customer service worth to your organization? Would you be willing to give a single client $5.00 to make them happy (in our fast food scenario) or do as we saw and let them go (remember the math!).