Sunday, November 22, 2015
A delivery mishaps blooms into good customer service
"They were beautiful," N.L. writes. She was referring to a bouquet of flowers that she received from her partner in the late afternoon on a day off from work. The flowers weren't for any special occasion, just an effort to make the day a bit brighter.
When N.L. read the note that accompanied the flowers, she saw that not only was there a note from her partner, but a note from the florist apologizing for the original delivery not arriving at the time it was promised. N.L. texted her partner to let him know how much she loved the flowers and sent him a photo so he could get a sense of how beautiful they were.
He told her that when they had spoken earlier, he knew she hadn't received the flowers since she didn't say anything, so he called the florist. The florist apologized and promised to get another bouquet out right away -- which it did.
Then N.L.'s doorbell rang. It was her next door neighbor to whose house the original bouquet had been delivered.
So now, N.L. had two beautiful bouquets. She texted her partner to tell him and to ask if she should call the florist. He texted back that when he asked the florist what he should do if the original bouquet eventually showed up, the florist had told him to keep both and enjoy the flowers.
Now, N.L. wanted to let her friends know not just how beautiful the flowers were, but also how responsive the florist had been to get the order right. "But I'll be telling friends that the florist screwed up the first order," she says. In her effort to praise the florist, she worried she'd be making her look bad over the mistake delivery.
Nevertheless, N.L. thought it important to sing the praises of the florist for making good on its promise. You hear so many stories of poor customer service, she said. Now, she wanted to make sure to spread a story about good customer service on her Facebook page and other social media.
"What's the right thing to do?" she asks.
It wouldn't be wrong to spread the word if she really wanted to. After all, the florist did make good on an error.
But N.L. might want to figure out what her ultimate goal would be in spreading the misdelivery made good story. If the intention is to drive other people to use the florist because of the service and the quality of the flowers, then perhaps there's a way to do that without having to worry about a potential delivery mishap.
N.L. could simply tell her friends how beautiful the flowers were, and then post a photo of them with the name of the florist (and perhaps the partner who ordered them) on her Facebook page and other social media accounts. Doing so would let friends know how pleased she was with the service.
The right thing is to figure out what she really wants to accomplish by spreading the word about the florist. If she can do that in a way that doesn't result in potentially having the opposite result of giving prospective customers pause, then that's the choice she should make.
Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is a lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School.
Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin
Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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