Before I have my laptop out, Jose is by my side, ready to take my order.
“A beer and um… some deep-fried calamares please.”
He trundles off and returns promptly with a cold tall one.
I look at the winter-empty beach, take in the sea air, and draw my coat closer around me against the breeze.
Then I switch my screen to white-on-black so I can read in the sun, and I get to work.
A bit later he puts the calamares down, and I instantly see: I can’t eat that.
Greasy, flat batter, glistening with oil.
They probably already had the fryer switched off and cooling down when I arrived, so they just fried them in cold oil.
I take a bite: chewy and sinewy. Clearly this isn’t today’s catch either.
Oh well. I work on and leave the plate for what it is.
Work finished, I ask for the bill. When it arrives, Jose asks why I didn’t eat the calamares, so I explain: “They’re greasy and chewy, I didn’t like them much”.
He shrugs, takes the plate and my money and walks off to get change
Now, if I had a customer complaining about something like that, I’d instantly make amends: perhaps offer a beer for free, or strike one off the bill – something, anything to show that my customer is respected, heard, understood.
But not Jose.
I didn’t mind too much – these things happen, no big deal.
And yet, the fact that he had just shrugged stayed with me.
I mean, that was about $18 for a two beers and a medium sized plate of food – and bad food at that. You’d expect… something, some kind of acknowledgement, right?
It didn’t make sense: Even if I know him to be a prime example of the famous Granada ‘mala follá’ black humor and gruff treatment, it seemed odd.
A week later I’m back, and I order a glass of fizzy water.
“Do you want a tapa with that?”
I’m surprised: Tapas, the small plate of free food that’s offered here in Andalusia, only comes with beer, wine or long-drinks.
You usually don’t get a tapa with a glass of fizzy water.
He puts down some fresh bread and two or three slices of Alpujarra cured ham – so thin you can see through it, succulent, beautiful flavor.
Just melts in the mouth. Expensive stuff, for free with a glass of water
Jose did something interesting there: Instead of repairing damage right away, he waited for a chance to overdeliver.
Even if it was a tiny gesture, the impact was big: I dig him, I don’t blame him. I’ll be back.
The moral of the story?
Always address customer complaints, one way or another. When you do, try some surprise&delight. Over deliver when you can, but whatever you do: make them know that you understand how they felt.
Make them feel like a person, acknowledge them.
Something small, which for you has hardly any cost at all, can be of huge emotional value to the other person.
One thing you can do instantly, any time someone has a complaint or objection?
“Thank you for letting me know. I see the problem, let’s see what can be done to fix it.”
Or: “It’s important that I know when things go wrong, so thank you for telling me this.”
You do that, and the person instantly warms to you again, no matter how upset they are.
That doesn’t fix the problem, but I’d say it’s the best starting point from which to get to a solution.
Two words: Thank you. And then you do what needs to be done. Try it :)
Which leaves me with no good reason to transit into a pitch, so without excuse or ado: the how, the why, and the signup of a writing mentor –> http://www.martinstellar.com/starship-mentorprise-writing-coach/