A Customer Service Story


Lunch time rolled around Friday. I thought to myself, “I don’t want the p b & j I brought today. But a Southwest Crispy Chicken Salad from McDonald’s sounds fantastic!” So I hopped in the car and ran to McDonald’s. My mouth was watering the entire way. I could almost taste the spicy sweet flavors in the salad combined with the crunch of the crispy chicken and the tortilla strips.

It’s finally my turn to order through the drive thru. I give the voice on the other end of the box my order: Southwest Salad with Crispy Chicken and a medium Diet Coke. The voice tells me ‘if the order on the screen is correct, your total is $6.54. Please pull around.’ I double check the screen. Everything is correct. I pull around, pay, and receive my salad.

I am a happy camper! WOO HOO! No p b & j today!

Imagine my disappointment when I open my salad to see GRILLED CHICKEN!

I sat quietly for a moment, thinking about my options. I could accept the salad as is. Or I could remove the grilled chicken and do with out. But I decided to take the salad back to McDonald’s so I could have it my way.

Before I headed back to McDonald’s, I posted the following status update on Facebook.

‘Ordered a salad from mcdonalds thru the drive thru. Get home. It’s wrong. I’m taking it back. Am I being to picky?’

The Facebook comments I have received are overwhelmingly supporting my decision to return the salad and that no I was not being too picky. I ordered one product and received a completely different product. And in this situation, the product I received could not be substituted or the one I ordered.

I pull back into McDonald’s, walk inside to the counter. I catch the eye of an employee. She walks over to me and asks what she can do for me. I tell her the story and present the salad and the receipt. Next the most amazing thing happened. The employee takes my bag, says to me ‘I’ll be right back.’ In a matter of 3 minutes, during lunch rush, I had a new salad with Crispy Chicken and a coupon for a free small fry or hashbrown in my hands. NO QUESTIONS ASKED! Yipee!!! I was back in  business.

Now I am sure you are asking ‘What does this experience at McDonald’s have to do with my photography business?’. Well, actually a lot!

I started thinking about the customer service experience I had with McDonald’s. What caused me to return the original product? Where was the breakdown in communication? How was the situation handled on both ends (mine and theirs)? What can I do better next time to ensure the product ordered is received correctly?

What can you do in your business to provide excellent customer service?

1).  Pre-Session Consultation (the voice in the box at McDonald’s)

A pre-session consult is a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your potential client. A PSC gives you and your client an opportunity to meet, find out expectations, ask and answer questions, and discover the needs of your client. This is also a chance for you to present your products or pre-sell your products to your clients.

2). Explain your system or way of handling your workload.

During your PSC, you will want to describe from start to finish, what happens before, during and after the session. Your clients want to know what to expect. Tell them. Let them know how long it will take from the session until they are scheduled for a sales session. Communicate the amount of time it will take before their finished products are ready for pick up. You are empowering your client through education. Educated clients are far more pleasant to work with than an uneducated client that feels like you are trying to take advantage of them.

3). Listen to your clients.

Take the time to identify your clients needs. Ask questions. Concentrate on what your clients are really saying. If they are saying no, they really are not saying no. They are saying ‘This is not working for me. Is there another way to make this work better for me?’.

Listen to their words, look at their body language, tone of voice, and how they feel. Your client needs to feel good about this purchasing decision. If your client does not feel good, the overall experience will not be good.

4). Check and recheck your clients orders.

At the end of sales session, review your clients order with them. Have examples of your products out, so your clients can see them in person, handle them, and you can point to them when reviewing the order. Verifying your clients order with them equates to no surprises and a happy client when the final product is delivered.

What do you do when there is an issue with a client?

1). Listen. Listen. Listen.

When there is an issue, be a good listener. The issue is more than likely a small one that can be resolved easily. Sometimes the client may be very upset in the beginning. If this happens, give the client a chance to let it all out. The client just wants to be heard. Once they feel like they have been heard, you can now address how you are going to rectify the situation.

2). Know and understand how to apologize.

Your clients may not always be right but they need to feel like they have ‘won’. This is a fine line to walk . Let your clients know if they are not completely happy with their product, that it’s okay to complain.  Value your clients complaints. We will improve in our businesses when we value what are clients are saying to and about us. Deal with issues in a timely manner. Dragging issue out only creates feelings of uneasiness with your clients. It makes you look like your are untrustworthy.

3). Go above and beyond.

Not only do you want to replace the product there is an issue with but you want to give a little some more to help solidify your clients decision to do business with you. For example, maybe during the sales session your client left a 5×7 on the table because they have met and exceeded their budget. Why not print that 5×7 and have it shipped to them? It costs you next to nothing and will go a long way in the form of good will! I can almost guarantee your client will chat you up to all of her girlfriends!

In this day and age of thousands of photographers, excellent customer service is one way to differentiate yourself from the pack. We would love to hear how you provide excellent casino på nätet customer service to your clients when there is an issue! Share your thoughts in the comments section!