Thursday, April 17, 2008

Customer service counts

As an American consumer of more than 30 years' experience, I've seen the good and bad of customer service. I've found that no one does a worse job of communicating than the phone company. Go figure. I also was once threatened with a visit from police during a heated dispute over a malfunctioning lawn mower at Wal-Mart. But sometimes a company understands that just a small gesture can make all the difference in its relationship with its customers. Such was the case for me yesterday at Hollywood Theaters at Washington Crown Center. I went with the missus and a co-worker to see "Smart People," which had a start time of 12:55 p.m. The missus and I both arrived about 12:30, which was the posted time for the box office to open. There was no one in the box office, or anywhere to be seen inside the theater, but I wasn't overly concerned because we still had nearly a half hour until the movie was to start, and my co-worker, who shall remain nameless, is well known for being fashionably late (Yeah, it was Bess). But by 12:50 (Bess still not there), it became apparent that we and the other six or eight people waiting to buy tickets might have a problem on our hands. About 1 p.m. (as Bess was finally sauntering over), one of the theater owners showed up and explained that there had been a change in middle management at the theater that apparently had created a snafu in worker scheduling. A few minutes later, someone appeared with keys to open the place, and the owner told us that we would be getting in free, and that our movies would be started once everyone got into his or her seats. True to her word, we had been seated no more than five minutes before the previews started playing, and nobody minds getting something for free. It might have cost the theater a little money to let us in without charge, but it bought them a lot of goodwill. People will remember that theater management apologized to us and did something to make the situation right. It also provides a lesson for other companies that using a little common sense and treating your customers fairly keeps them happy, and coming back.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had your co-worker arrived at 12:30 (on time), she would've ended up standing there with the rest of you derelicts and a few mall guards for the 30 minutes until theater employees arrived with comments like, "Oh sorry yinz guys. I thought it was Sherry's day to manage the theater, n'at." So your co-worker's lateness was no biggie. Besides, it wasn't her fault that PennDOT actually decided to clean highways of litter the same afternoon, haulting traffic on her way down from the Burgh. Good flick though!

April 18, 2008 at 8:09 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Bess, it's a gift to be able to make tardy funny. I applaud you.

April 18, 2008 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

As our society continues to become more and more self-centered, customer service has come to the forefront of what a business must do to survive. Brant's right...people do remember that little extra effort. When I have a problem with a company or a restaurant or such, and I complain, all I really want is for my complaint to be acknowledged. I don't want anything free (although I will take it, you know), but it's more important to me to have my complaint heard and taken seriously.

In recent months, I've had complaints with an absolutely insolent cashier at Wal Mart and some terrible service at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant. In both instances, I complained via the Internet to the corporate offices. I promptly was contacted by the managers of both establishments with apologies and understanding. Will I go back? Sure. If they care enough to call me and apologize, I assume that they will take my comments seriously and will address my complaints in a way they see fit. Customer service really does matter.

April 20, 2008 at 7:14 PM  

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