Customer Policy vs. Customer Service

 

This week we welcome Guest Blogger Brandy Vaillancourt, Marketing Director at AlphaKOR Group.

A friend shared this story with me – and as a business owner or executive, I’m very curious to know which side of the argument you’re on.

A mother with two young children planned to ‘surprise’ her husband with a visit from her and the kids.  Dad was at a Windsor area recreation establishment where he is part of a team.

The kids were excited to see their dad in recreational ‘action’. Being 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening, the mother figured a quick stop at a sub shop for take-out would make the visit a pleasant one so the kids could sit and eat while they watch and cheer on their dad.

With two children and a couple subs in hand, the mother walked up to the recreation establishment’s front doors. To her surprise the mother saw a sign she’d never seen before: NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR BEVERAGES.  The mother knew that the sign hadn’t been there in the last few years when she’d visit her husband before...

The mother decided to take the honest approach – instead of sneaking the food or waiting to get ‘caught’ she simply walked up to the customer service counter and explained:  “I’m very sorry, I had no idea you changed your policy and no longer allow outside food. You see, I picked up these sub sandwiches for my kids and they just want to watch their dad. Can you please make this exception and I will not bring in food at all next time.”

The two at the customer service desk looked at each other as if to non-verbally decide the fate of the family.  After a brief moment they replied:  “I’m sorry ma’am. No food allowed. Maybe just a bag of chips but certainly no food.  You’ll have to leave with it.”

To which the mother reasoned, “It’s just for my kids – we didn’t know until we walked to the door. They just want to watch their dad.  It won’t happen again.”

The mother took her two children over to say a quick hello to their dad before they had to leave.  The older of the children – 8 years old – couldn’t believe they wouldn’t make an exception for what was clearly an unintentional error.

The dad was very excited to see his family and instantly his smile turned to a scowl when the mother recounted the story…

This story could go on talking about the dad’s reaction but it’s not really relevant to this business conversation so I’ll just end it there.

I am really curious though – this could be a solid debate. Whose side are you on… Customer Policy or Customer Service?

If the counter employees made the exception, how many others would they have to allow as well? This establishment has its own restaurant and is desperately trying to preserve its own consumer dollars. Then again, this is a mom with two young kids at dinner time who want to see their dad.

For discussion sake, the second child is a toddler and ‘eating in the car’ was not an option.

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