Making Customer Service Problems your Best Opportunities

February 13, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Some of you may have seen I took Twitter to express may disappointment at a bacon sandwich I ordered in the Sainsbury's Cafe at their Kendal store, recently.

bacon sandwichBacon SandwichA disappointing bacon sandwich   

I had an engine warning light showing on my van so based on the recommendation of a friend I took it to David Breaks a local garage and a renowned Jedi at sorting out diesel engined vehicles.  Whilst David was working his magic I made the short walk to Sainsbury's cafe for the rare treat of a bacon sarnie.  The sandwich was only £2 so I wasn't expecting too much, but when it arrived I was totally under whelmed.  There was hardly more than a rasher between the two slices of bread.  The bacon was very well done and on the verge of cremation.  The lady behind the til was not over blessed with bonhomie so I was reluctant to take it back.  Instead I decided to vent my frustration on Twitter and LinkedIn.

In all honesty I also had an ulterior motive.  Together with a colleague, Jenna Vernon of Collective Comms, I am running a seminar on getting more out of social media and I had an inkling that this might yield some anecdotal content.  Boom! It sure did. 

In fairness to Sainsbury's within a few minutes of my tweet I had a reply asking me a few pertinent questions. 

Had I talked to a "colleague" at the store?

Did I buy it in the store or from the cafe? 

Could I send them a photo of my receipt? 

By the end of the morning they had refunded twice the cost of the sandwich in points onto my Nectar card.  Fair enough I thought. 

However I started to contrast this with my experience at David Breaks' garage.  This is a small local business that relies on goodwill to get its customers.  Whilst I was having a disappointing breakfast, David had plugged my van into his diagnostic system identified the problem area and cleared the fault.  He explained it in glorious technical detail to me when I went to collect the van. 

"Take it away and try it for a week and make sure it is ok"  he said. " I am not 100% sure if the fault is more serious or if it's just a sensor playing up."

"Great, how much do I owe you?" I replied.

"Nothing, no charge! If it does turn into a bigger fault we will sort it then!" 

I came away feeling very grateful, impressed by David's honesty,  and his willingness to help out.  There is nothing more he needed to do to turn me into a loyal customer and advocate of his skills.  Next time I have a problem with my van, I will go back and I will also recommend his services to others.  I have already written a 5 star review for him on Google.

My experience at Sainsbury's on the other hand left me feeling letdown.  Ok they had given me a refund, but it was to my Nectar card. I had to go back into their shop to take advantage of it.  Having had an unpleasant experience in there, I am in no rush to return.  The refund was also intangible, there is nothing I could physically grasp onto to get a sense of well being or to reassure me that they cared.    I then recollected the out-take I had seen of their CEO last year.  He was singing "We're in the money" while waiting to be interviewed about the merger with Walmart.  I couldn't help feeling that this greed and off-hand attitude to their customers had pervaded the whole organisation.  

They had so many opportunities to overwhelm me at little expense. They had a golden opportunity turn me into a loyal customer who would sing their praises.  Good marketing is about creating moments that your customers will remember in a positive way.  Here was their chance to create a moment of magic for me.

For example, the bacon sandwich incident took place on the 13th February, they could have offered to send my wife a bunch of roses for Valentine's day - making me look like a hero and unlikely to forget their generosity.


A meal from their £10 dinner takeaway range?

A hamper of a few items from their taste the difference range?

A donation to a local charity?


Giving me something physical and generous in value compared to my loss would have won me over.  And in fact it would have cost them less than a tenner!  They could also have generated a positive story to use on their own social media.  I would have happily shared a photo with them of my wife's bunch of roses! But they blew it! Instead of a magic memory, I feel like they did the bare minimum to keep me satisfied.   How much do they value their customers? Not much!

End result: David Breaks has a positive review on Google, and my custom for the foreseeable future.  Sainsbury's have had their shoddy service shared with my network of 3000 connections.

If you need help turning your problems into opportunities then please get in touch.  Call me for a chat on 07557 780336 or email me.





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