Customer Experience Shout-Out of the Week

It was a touch and go thing there for a minute. Usually I list Kohl’s Department Store amongst the companies that “get it” from a customer experience, or at a minimum a customer service, standpoint. This past week however they slid dangerously close to my list of “I don’t shop there any more” vendors.

Somehow, back in August, our usual Kohl’s Card back-to-school-shopping-bill didn’t arrive in the mail. My wife, who is ever diligent about such things, wondered at that, but we got caught up in the stuff of life and didn’t think too much about it. We eventually just paid what we owed based on receipts we had.

Unfortunately that payment crossed in the “mail” and we were charged a late fee in September. We didn’t pay it, we called in a disputed it, but apparently did THAT too late because we were charged a late fee for the late fee. Now we were expected to pay $30 in late fees for $24 worth of goods.

Again we called to dispute. This time we got a fairly rude gentleman on the phone who suggested that he could take off one late fee but not both. We countered by suggesting that if he bothered to look he’d see we had been Kohl’s customers for nearly a decade, never had a late fee prior to this, in fact rarely ran a balance, and that this was unacceptable. He countered our counter by saying he could remove both late fees IF we paid the one dollar interest charge on the first late fee.  Sheesh.

We agreed.

This month our bill had…wait for it…two late fees. The one he didn’t take off after we paid the dollar and a late fee on top of that.

I called once again. I wasn’t in the mood to negotiate this time really so after the requisite confirmation of who the operator was speaking with I launched right in. I explained the series of events succinctly and then said:

“So, I’m calling today to see if we can either get these two late fees reversed or to just pay you the thirty dollars, cancel my card and never do business with you again.”

The operator responded:
“Yes, Mr. Fletcher I see the conversation history here. Can you hold for just a moment please?”

When she returned, in what truly WAS just a moment, she launched right in:
“Alright Mr. Fletcher those charges have been removed. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

I kind of felt cheated, she’d stolen my steam. At the same time I was glad it was so simple.

So what’s the moral of the story?

1. Companies with a history of good service will usually come through.
As I mentioned I have had good experience with Kohl’s correcting things that needed correcting. If I hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have given then a couple attempts.

2. Consistency is crucial.
I say this because if I had NOT had previous experience from which to draw I may have left them hanging after the first botched attempt. Making sure all of your service people can handle things right the first time is crucial to building those good experiences.

3. It all starts with the right attitude.
Attitude drives behavior. Setting an attitude that says lets help the customer goes a long way towards creating consistent behavior and developing quality customer experiences.

What examples have you run into lately of companies who have managed a customer experience save based on your past experience with them?


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