Loyal Client Lost Due to Horrible Mistake

A recent visit to my florist (of which I have been a loyal client for about five years) left me angry and mystified.

Three employees (including the manager) were leaning against a table behind the counter as I walked up for service.  Without making a move, one of them asked what I needed.   I said that I wanted to order flowers for my mother…before I could give her additional information, the employee who was identified as being new on the job, walked to the counter and asked me when the funeral was scheduled.

In shock and disbelief at her question, I told her that my mother was very much alive and in fact the flowers are to celebrate her birthday that she is celebrating in excellent health.  Although she recognized that I was offended, she did not apologize.  In fact, she dismissively said that she probably should have let me finish my sentence before she made her statement.  I told her that she was absolutely correct and that she should take this experience as a teachable moment to learn how to listen, be courteous and to know her customer before she begins to speak.

It is challenging to remain loyal to a business which so blatantly disregards its customer’s feelings and seemingly unable to conceptualize when they have made a mistake, not to mention apologizing for it and making matters “right”.

Even after I told the employee AND the manager, about the years I have been a loyal client and how I this has been an awful customer experience, no effort was made to apologize and to mend what has now become a broken relationship.

I was angry about the employee’s behavior and her lack of understanding how much she offended me.  I was equally disturbed and mystified as to why the manager, who was present and observed her employee’s behavior, did not step up to the counter to resolve what could have been an emotionally explosive situation.  I wondered (and have now concluded) if the manager was a major part of the problem that I experienced.

A word of wisdom:  Think before you speak.  Matthew Sloan of American Kiosk Management said it best, “Don’t focus on closing a sale.  Instead, open a relationship and make your customers buy into that relationship.”   Well said, Matthew !

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