Tonight I had an extremely bad experience at the KFC/Taco Bell in Ashburn, VA. I waited in the drive through line for approx 10 mins before giving up and going inside. Once inside I waited 8 mins and not a single person said anything to me.... oh they saw me alright.... at least 2 people (including the manager) pointed at me. I grabbed a recipt that someone threw on the floor in order to get some kind of customer service number and was shocked that the recipt had a time stamp of 5pm on it and it was now 10pm.... trash sitting on the floor for 5 hours?
Typically I try to give people the benefit of the doubt -- I used to manage for Pizza Hut, after all. I've been known to call customer service hotlines to tell them what a great job someone did -- and on multiple occasions. I know how important to hear your doing a good job is, not only as a manager but as a human being.
After blowing 20 mins of my life trying to get a taco I went to McDonald's. I wanted to go through the drive through but they were getting a delivery and their truck had it blocked so I decided to go inside and, since I was in there, eat inside. It wasn't until I was sitting down and the manager went and locked the door that I realized the dining room was supposed to be closed at this time of night but apparently they left it open since they knew people couldn't get to the drive through. Aside from this, the manager was so extremely polite. Stepping back and thinking about this from a psychological point of view I think two things can happen after you've had a bad experience. The first is you're in such a bad mood that no one can do right for you and the second is that even poor service can seem awesome in the light of the experience you had.
So here is the problem. Companies have to monitor their customer service lines with a real grain of salt because ALL they hear is the bad. If you have a good experience somewhere you feel there is no need to tell them but if you have a bad one, well, you need to make sure someone is held accountable. What ends up happening is us consumers create a situation where our complaints get taken with less sincerity because, well, what is there to base how bad the situation is since the customer service team isn't getting any good reports. What's worse is the companies that are doing an incredibly awesome job just simply don't realize they are doing something right and it also reduces their motivation to keep doing that great job.
I don't know if there is a solution or not but I want to make a challenge to everyone (yes, this means you). Aside from the need to sometimes realize that everyone has bad days I think there is a real huge need for customer service hotlines to have a balanced report. I think an easy way for us to start turning this around is for us to set our own personal goals that anytime we feel that we need to report a horrible experience we pick another experience in the same week (or even day) that we also call someone's customer service hotline and tell them about an awesome experience you had with their company. So maybe on Monday you have a horrible experience at Taco Bell but on Wednesday you stop in at Target and an employee does something really great to help you out. Give Taco Bell a call and tell them the situation but then also call Target and tell them about that situation as well. If you have 2 bad experiences in a week that you feel like calling a company about then also pick 2 good experiences from the same week and call those companies and tell them what a great job they are doing. If all of this catches on then we might actually see huge corporations having incentive to keep doing good and seeing more action taken for the bad reports they are getting.