A couple of weeks ago we picked up a tub of black olives from the Thorndon New World (TNW) deli. Pretty uncomplicated stuff, you’ve probably done that kind of thing yourself. We got home and decided to make an antipasto thang for dinner – casual, picnic style, off the coffee table, and watch a movie – as you do. Well, we do, anyway (thinks: when did I get such classy readers?).
The olives were disgusting. No, not olives are disgusting (we like them) they were disgusting. They had some weirdo plastic flavour and they were just bad. I was grumpy because I’m just not the same without an olive or twenty two. Back in the fridge they went, and I festered and moaned about the horror of bad olives.
The next night I bundled up the olives and high tailed it back down the TNW, all the time planning on my approach to complaining about the olives. THE OLIVES! The head-talk: “Two thirds of the world is starving to death and I’m upset about olives. Get a grip!” The other part of me was thinking, “No, those thieving mongrels have sold us poor innocents substandard olives, they must be punished for this heinous deed.” Then, of course, another part was big into the “Oh my god, what if they were from some country where the mafia/cosa nostra/triad/illuminati/young nationals replaced the olive oil with diesel or whatever the last Spanish olive oil scandal was about, and we’ve eaten – noooooo – gak!” And finally, “What if half Wellington dies of bad olives? Remember ‘The Meaning of Life’? It was the salmon.” … You’re never alone if you have enough voices in your head.
All of us – me, and all the voices – stormed up to the customer service desk (alert: key words – customer service). I’m barely coherent at this point because all the voices wanted a say. Liam was on duty that night. He looked at me, listened, smiled, apologised, looked at the olives, apologised, tsk-tsked, smiled, sniffed the olives, apologised, fired up the refund process, apologised, smiled, I filled in a form, smiled, they refunded me twice the sticker price, smiled, apologised, and in less than 10 minutes I was back in the car.
I don’t quite know where the voices went. I went home.
A week or so later, a letter arrived, thanking me for participating in their ‘quality assurance’ programme. Um, I wouldn’t have quite called it that, but that’s what I do for a job, so I’m happy to lend my shoulder to the wheel. Overall, I’m a very satisfied customer, even if the olives – olives? Schmolives – who cares about olives? Thanks, Liam, you’ve got a bright future in whatever your chosen field. TNW – thanks for sticking to the game plan – I guess we’re worth $15,000 a year to you, so $10 worth of refund is less than the daily shrinkage from the dried fruit and nuts dept – plus there’s the promo work I’m doing here for you. But it’s about a principle. When New World presents a 200% satisfaction guarantee, they deliver on the promise. This is what is known as ‘customer service’. Please, Mr and Ms NZBusiness, take a look at the concept of customer service, and try to find a way of fitting in to the picture. This particularly means you, telecommunication companies.