Breaking process in order to retain a loyal customer and improve their experience

We have all been taught that we need clear processes and procedures for our employees to follow and for our customers to understand.  Companies spend every single day refining processes and re-focusing the internal “procedures”, despite the fix often being at the detriment of the customer experience.

Critical to bringing about better and more customer friendly processes must be the training for employees to know how to use these processes and also for them to be given the permission and the trust to know when to break or tweak a process in order to retain their customers or to do the right thing.

We often hear stories about loyal customers leaving and going elsewhere because “after all these years, they changed this” or “even after I spent that much and am their most loyal customer, they still charged me the fee,” etc.

Yesterday, as an extremely loyal member of a certain retailer, I received an email saying that they were having several specials on-line throughout the day.  I didn’t think much of it until 6pm, I got the email that said 40% off of everything.  I certainly woke up…..I JUST bought a few blazers no more than 5 days ago and now they are on sale for 40%.  NOooooo!  How can this be?

Without hesitation, I phoned the online retail number to explain my dilemma.  The friendly, professional and empathetic representative that took the call, explained to me that this is an on-line only promotion.  So, when I challenged her to say that I don’t want to do this, but I could re-order everything on line, then go return everything to the store because many of the tags were not even off the clothing yet, and there was a 60 day returns process, she told me she understood.  I shared how silly that would be for me to have to do this, and she also commiserated with my sentiments.  And then she said, you know, let me explain to my manager and see if she is willing to do anything.  I said I appreciated her efforts.

She came back on the phone and just as I was expecting her to say, no it’s just like I explained, this is on-line only, she said, we would be happy to do this for you this time.  I have your receipt here and we will credit your card back with the difference as if you were going to buy this online.

I was shocked.  I already expected them to say “NO!”  I thanked her very much and said that I will continue to be a very loyal customer.

What I love about this story, besides getting the additional and unexpected money back on my card, is that this representative understood how I felt.  She connected with me emotionally, and she understood that while there was a process in place, she would try to work around it to retain my loyalty and save me from going back to the store.  She didn’t make me feel bad. In fact, quite the opposite.  She recognized that this was important to me and valuable for me.  And, she was empowered to make it happen with one quick let me ask what I can do?

Service Woe or Wow?  You decide?


2 thoughts on “Breaking process in order to retain a loyal customer and improve their experience

  1. I love hearing stories like this and I agree that it is so important for companies to properly train and empower their employees to make some decisions that will, in most cases, surprise and delight their customers. When doing so they’ll not only retain loyal customers, they’ll also increase their revenue because their loyal customers tell their friends about the extraordinary service which drives business. There is no better advertisement then someone sharing real life experiences with their friends and family members. Thank you for sharing.


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