Have you noticed that in some businesses, the goal of their "customer disservice" is to leave you "benefit neutral". In other words, the main driving force is to leave you no better than exactly what you paid for. Companies like this struggle to get you satisfied but to cover themselves so they don’t lose anything by making you happier than you ought to be.
I’ve found this model to be far more in play when things are either expensive, labor intensive, or low margin. (Example: Car dealership…when is the last time a dealership comped the entire service and parts if they missed a deadline, made an error, or caused you a substantial inconvenience?) I’ve found that companies offering high margin cheap stuff are more likely to leave you "better than when you started" if a customer service issue comes up. (EXAMPLE: We made your latte incorrectly, here’s another one and a coupon for another free one for the inconvenience.)
This past weekend my family went to see Open Season. Start time was listed at 12:55PM. Everyone knows that movies have about 12 minutes of commercials…but we still arrived at the door of the theater at 12:54PM as confirmed by the lobby clock. The movie had already started. My wife went to the front and asked if something had malfunctioned, etc. The manager confirmed that the movie should not have started and said that refunds would be offered. No questions were asked, and the counter worker reimbursed my family for 5 movie admissions. We probably missed the first 5 minutes of the movie, sat through the rest of it, and were left "enhanced" by the free tickets for the future.
This issue was handled properly. A five ticket reimbursement is a tiny fraction of what revenues are taken in during a weekend day. The refund made us "better than even" since we had actually seen 98% of the film we wanted to see. I didn’t even expect the refund…but it was suggested by their management.
The point is, I’m writing a positive and glowing review of the West Des Moines, Jordan Creek Town Center Century Theater right now and I’ll continue to patronize them and spread the word that they care about their customers. I might even host a seminar or meeting there now.
Excellent customer service spawns positive commentary and perception. If someone would have made a stink over this refund…I’d be aggressively attempting to dissuade everyone in my sphere of influence and beyond to avoid this place. Whether it’s $1500/day consulting…or a $6.00 movie ticket…the rules apply equally.
See how much can happen in an instant? They probably don’t even know they did something so powerful with so little thought. In their case, policy worked properly.