Having been a leader of sales and customer service teams for years, I accept that no company services its customers perfectly all the time. Certain situations are complicated and certain customers are difficult to please. And to top it off, we all have moments and make mistakes. Therefore, maintaining a standard of perfect service that always keeps customers happy is not possible.
Given the reality of imperfection, I have taught my teams for years that customer service issues are not to be avoided when they arise. They are to be embraced, because they are an opportunity. A great opportunity to promptly do what it takes to “Make It Right” with the customer. What I have found is that after a customer has had their issue effectively addressed, the positive experience of the Make It Right response often outweighs the initial problem.
I was reminded of the Make It Right principle in a recent experience with Talking Stick Golf Club. After nearly being eaten alive by mosquitos, I became increasingly frustrated (in direct proportion to the itchiness of the numerous bites) that I hadn’t been forewarned of the problem. Being a business geek, I also wanted to see what they would do, so I decided to send this feedback note to the club General Manager:
As a Coore & Crenshaw devotee, the North Course at Talking Stick is one of my favorites. My company is headquartered in Scottsdale, and I get out to play it whenever I am in town for business and have a few free hours. I have played it 6+ times since discovering it last summer, and my experiences have generally been outstanding.
Unfortunately, today was different, and so I wanted to share my feedback with you. Today, because of the unbelievably high number of mosquitos, the course was basically unplayable. I gave it a try but even covered in repellant (which the beverage gal lent me on my 5th hole) and without stopping to putt, it was just too much. I finally gave up after 13 holes. I cannot recall having less fun playing golf.
Obviously, there is nothing you can do about the interesting curve balls that mother nature throws. However, while reflecting on the experience on my way back to my hotel, I couldn’t help but be disappointed and frustrated that neither the website reservation system, nor the pro shop, forewarned me about the playing conditions before taking my money. Based on other conversations I had with staff, everyone was well aware of the problem.
Honestly, even if they had told me, I’m not sure that I could have comprehended how bad the mosquitos are, so I likely would have played anyway. But in retrospect, it would have been nice to have been given the information so that I could have made an informed choice. And if I had subsequently gone out to play, at least the Talking Stick crew would have adjusted my expectations.
You might want to consider full disclosure with your future guests to avoid off-putting anyone else. I love the course, so I will probably come back. But given today’s experience, my decision to do so will no longer be automatic.
And to their credit, another manager from the club responded to me:
Thank you for your email regarding your recent experience at Talking Stick Golf Club. We appreciate your comments regarding our North Course.
I apologize for the experience on Tuesday of this week. Mother Nature dealt us a problem we had not had to endure in the past and were working on a plan of action at the time. The staff had been instructed to inform all players and offer repellent prior to play, but it appears they were unsuccessful with you. We have taken steps to improve the situation by having the entire property sprayed for mosquitos and continue to offer repellent as an extra protection to all players.
We would prefer this experience not have a lasting impact on your future decision to play golf and would like to offer a complimentary round of golf for your next visit. Please contact (removed name) at (removed phone number) to arrange your next round of golf at the club. I have copied him on this email, so please reach out to either of us if you have any questions or comments.
Andy is a General Manager with Century Golf Partners, and although his team at Talking Stick did not initially get it right with me, he did Make It Right. He didn’t have to give me the complimentary round, the response was enough. But knowing that I have it, I will certainly be going back. Andy is obviously smart enough to know, as I do, that keeping a relationship alive with an existing customer is much easier than finding a new one. We don’t always get it right, but we can always Make It Right.