What is Your Excuse?

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I was reading an article recently about a car rental company who rented a car with expired tags. Inevitably, the car was pulled over and the guests were given a ticket. They spoke with the rental agency who assured them the ticket would be taken care of and they did not need to be concerned.

You can probably see where I am going with this – the guests were continuously charged for the ticket, their calls to the car rental company to complain were getting them nowhere. When they finally contacted one of those consumer advocate groups to help them out, the final explanation given was that a “computer glitch” created the problem, and the error was fixed in favor of the guests.

Think about the chain of events created by excuses and a lack of follow through? The rental company neglected to check their registration on the vehicle, which resulted in stress for the guest. The guest returns the car, believing the problem is behind them. At this point, the organization has a 50/50 chance that the guest will rent another car in the future. Then the guests are harassed to pay a ticket that was not their fault in the first place. The worst part of this situation is the guests actively tried to correct the situation to no avail from the car rental company. The end result is bad publicity for the rental agency (as most of these consumer advocate groups are all over the internet and television), and a customer who will most likely not rent another car from them as well as tell all of their friends to follow suit.

This scenario is only too common today, when we don’t know how to figure out a problem, we blame the computer. Let’s get real, how many times have we used the computer as an easy way out when we simply messed up – forgotten to make a reservation, or follow-up on a customer complaint? I can honestly say I have used that excuse in the past, it was safe, you were not throwing your coworkers “under the bus” by blaming another person, and it sounded like a feasible explanation to the customer. Most people can easily detect when they are being lied to, and your customers should be no different. Unfortunately, you end up looking stupid when a customer calls you out on this, and you may be forced to actually tell the truth!

Excuses and opinions, everyone’s got one, right? But, does that make it okay? Why have we become a society where making excuses is almost expected. Politicians do it all of the time; they cannot accomplish anything in office because the opposing party will not play nice in the sandbox. Children constantly make excuses for not doing their homework, not cleaning their rooms, or fighting with their siblings. People love to make excuses for their poor behavior, living in excess, or neglecting others.

It would be refreshing, if not altogether frightening, to a customer if people actually took responsibility for problems instead of making excuses and blaming others. How do you think a customer feels if someone spends more time making excuses for their issue instead of fixing it? I know it makes me feel as if an organization does not value me and my business if they make excuses. By taking responsibility and practicing the fine art of service recovery, an organization gains my respect. I may not be happy at that moment, but I can respect someone who is willing to accept responsibility and move forward.

Problems occur as we do not live in a perfect society, and facing that angry guest is not a pleasant thing to do. How we conduct ourselves in these situations may create a customer who is willing to give you another chance, or one who will never step foot in your establishment again. In the end, would you rather create an excuse or create a satisfied customer? What is your excuse?

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