Doing Customer Service Right

Monday, June 11, 2012

Did you ever have a customer service experience that was both embarrassing and pleasant? Let me tell you how Bed Bath & Beyond earned a loyal customer.

Shortly after moving into our condo, Roland and I took inventory to see what accessories we needed to make it a comfortable home. We are both avid readers and there are no ceiling lights like we had at the house, so our list included lamps.

That Saturday we made a shopping trip to Bed Bath & Beyond. We also went to Lowe's, which is just a little farther down the street. After buying two bedside lamps and a few other things, we returned home.

Roland's bedside lamp never did turn on easily, so he loosened the switch. Then I turned the light on while dusting and the switch fell apart. Since then, Roland has been after me to exchange the lamp.

I pass Bed Bath and Beyond every Saturday on my way to my writers' group, but I procrastinated over returning the lamp because I couldn't find the receipt. That puzzled me since I am very meticulous about keeping records of my expenditures. But I kept looking for a Bed Bath & Beyond receipt for the lamps without luck.

Roland assured me that the store could find the transaction in its computer, so this past Saturday I gave in. Since I didn't want to wander around Bed Bath & Beyond with a lamp I had already paid for, I took it straight to the service desk. Unfortunately, the customer service representative said she couldn't locate the transaction without an item number, which I didn't have. She then asked another employee for help, and he went to see if he could find the same lamp. He couldn't, and neither of them recognized the lamp as one they sold. Still, Roland had been positive we bought it there, and so was I.

When the male employee couldn't find the lamp online, either, he offered me a store credit for the price of the closest thing he could find. I declined because I needed two matching lamps and already had one working one. So I walked out of the store with the lamp and hoped that Lowe's would have a replacement switch to solve the problem.

Even though I was positive we bought the lamp at Bed Bath & Beyond, when I arrived at Lowe's I decided to look at its lamp collection just in case. And there it was. I felt like a total idiot.

I appreciate the way the Bed Bath & Beyond employees handled the situation. I had no evidence of the purchase and could have been trying to rip off the store by returning a defective item I hadn't bought there. But I probably sounded as sincere as I was--I really did believe I had bought the lamp there--and store personnel made the decision to keep a customer happy. By doing so, they turned a now-and-then customer into a long-term one.

The Lowe's employees also deserve a thank-you for their friendly service in exchanging the lamp without the receipt I probably had at home.

Because sometimes stores do customer service right.

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