Customer service excuses leave the customer more frustrated, frequently irritated and certainly surprised. In two recent situations, excuses weren’t necessary. Ownership and action would have responded to the issues quickly.
In the first encounter, I called a photography studio to find out why my daughter’s individual basketball picture was not posted on their site. The team picture was available to order but she was the only team member without an individual picture. The first call was handled by an employee who could not find it so he promised a callback from the studio manager. After no call was returned, I called again and was told she was not in and left a message. Still no callback, so I initiated the third call and reached her. After establishing she had been informed of the situation, her response was, “I hadn’t called you back because I don’t know the answer. I hated to call you to say I don’t know anything.” She then proceeded to tell me what she was doing to locate the picture. As she was going through her explanation, she would fill in with “blah, blah, blah”. I guess this this was to tell me she was working hard and “blah, blah, blah” kept her from explaining the details. The reality is she was doing a lot and offered a way to get the picture redone if it was not found. All was ok and could be fixed. So why didn’t she call and tell me that to start! There was nothing to hide.
The customer wants responsiveness, not excuses. Even when you don’t have an answer, let the customer know you aware of the issue and working on it. Silence is never a customer service option.
The other situation occurred while having lunch. When asking for silverware, our server said, “The hostess should have given it to you when seating you. But she is new so guess she didn’t do it”. It was a simple request with a simple action required. Just own it and do it, not point out the shortcomings of others. Next when my dining companion placed her order, she reminded the server that she did want the avocado on the salad. Her response, “I don’t make the salad, they do it in the kitchen”. Again, claiming any errors are not her fault but those around her. This is not information the customer does not need to know.
Customers want action and responsiveness, not defensiveness and excuses. Chatter about your internal issues sounds a lot like “blah, blah, blah” to the customer. Excuses are a hiring, training, coaching and culture issue. So stop with the excuses and get your culture right to create memorable customer experiences.