Repairs and presumptions

posted in: Blog | 0

I think it is true that we all lapse in service sometime, somewhere, for some or other reason. For me though the lasting memory is how that inconvenience is sorted out, how it is repaired. This will often determine if I will use that service again, or not.

This is a good news story and also one about making presumptions…

The story revolves around Build-a-Bear Workshop (BABW) in the Waterfront, actually it relates to their entire service offering in general. My two girls have built a couple of bears so far in their still young lives. The experience has always been awesome for them and the staff at BABW always treat each little child with such tenderness. They create such a great space and make them feel soooo special and important, and treat each child as an individual. I won’t explain the whole concept of building a bear, putting in a heart, making a wish with eyes closed and jumping around 3 times before placing the heart in your new toy’s chest… ok, I got carried away there and pretty much did explain the entire process… Let me just say that if you have not yet “built a bear” go do it, yes, even if you are older than 10 and pretend not to get a good feeling out of hugging a toy once in a while…. I distract myself…

Back to the story. So Tabi and Jaed received some gift vouchers for Christmas and first chance they got they made plans to set off to the Waterfront to go claim their gifts – I think they threatened to walk if we did not drive them…. They spent 45 minutes or so building their toys, naming them, hugging them and dressing them. For interest Tabi chose a Giraffe, called her Lizzie and put her on roller blades with red shoes. Jaed chose a Springbok, as in the Rugby Bokkie, called her (yes, it is a girl Springbok) KC and dressed her in pink Hello Kitty pyjamas. Hopefully this is not an omen to the performance of the Sprinboks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

So we are all set to go with new stuffed toys. On trying to pay we were told that one of the cards only had R7 left on it. Not possible we said, that is a R200 voucher and we haven’t been anywhere near a BABW since buying the card. Leslie, the shop manager ,took the card back office and came back to say that the card had been used on two occasions in Gauteng! Oops, so how are you going to sort out the problem I asked. This is the only time where their service lapsed in this entire episode. The “remote” manager on the other end of the phone who was making the decisions, well, didn’t make a decision and so we ended up being in the store muuuuch longer than anticipated. Eventually, Leslie took the money out of his own pocket insisting he would get refunded and we left the store. Thankfully the girls were engrossed with their new Lizzie and KC toys while the whole time the shop assistants were on the floor (as in sitting on the floor) playing with them and their new toys – another great bit of service from the BABW staff where other places probably would have ignored us, or steered clear of this Dad who was now beginning to twitch and quiver with impatiance and anger.

That hour or so delay is the only little glitch in this story. Leslie took my details and apologised, again, and later that afternoon I received a call from him apologising, again, saying he would keep me informed as to what had happened.

Last week I received a call from a lady at BABW head office once again apologising for the inconvenience – what is impressive is that I could hear she was genuinely apologetic; she wasn’t just going through the motions as an employee. She then finished off saying she would like my address as they will be sending us a BABW hamper for our troubles. Yesterday I received a call from the local store confirming my address, once again most pleasantly spoken and then followed up with an email giving me the tracking number and time of the delivery. And wishing me a beary happy day….. So I feel they did well in repairing the inconvenience we suffered.

Now is where the presumption part comes into the story.

The parcel was collected from the post office and the girls were super excited to open it – it was after all a parcel from Build-a-Bear! They did though manage to hold out until I was home, and then they ripped into the packaging (keep in mind here this was a package from BABW and so they were keen to see what BABW goodies they were about to receive…). So they continue ripping in and get to the cellophane wrapping and the more I see, the more my brain kicks into overdrive…oh dear, how are we going to handle this one…the cellophane wrapping comes off to reveal… to reveal a wonderful collection of nuts, biltong and chips, not a single bit of BABW goodies anywhere! Oh dear, sorry girls we were a bit presumptuous here.

No digs at BABW here at all and the hamper they had sent was to us parents to thank us for our understanding and to apologise for the mix up. The girls’ disappointment lasted a short while (about as long as it takes to open a cylinder of Pringles….) and the goodies are now being well received and enjoyed. The lesson we all learnt though will last a long time, hopefully.

So what has this got to do with StephenC as a photographer? I always like to learn lessons out of every service interaction I have and here I am thankful to the lessons from BABW on how best to sort out issues, when they arise, with clients. Thank you BABW and we certainly will bring our children back to your stores. Then there is also the lesson on presumptions. This instils in me that I should never presume what a client wants – engage and ask questions and build a relationship to have a better understanding of what is required.