Passive aggressive service recovery: Does it work? You tell me!
I dragged myself to a well know phone store last week for a
long overdue upgrade. I know this task can be achieved online but I don’t have
the patience to trawl through all the technology. I just wanted a human being to show
me three options and to transfer the data. Boom!
The store opened three quarters of an hour late and this, I was told, is because they need two people to open it in case they 'get robbed’. Now, I don’t
dispute this as perfectly reasonable excuse but, answering the phone or leaving a note on the door could have diluted
my annoyance of being made to wait outside, whilst being ignored by someone that
could see me as clearly as I could see them. Moreover, when this person did open the
door, he didn’t smile or apologise for the inconvenience. No siree! After letting the second staff member in ahead of me (presumably so I couldn’t rugby
tackle him to the ground and ‘rob' him before she could get her foot in the
door) he stated the potential insurance issue and turned back into the shop.
When I grumbled he swung round and told me that ‘It wasn’t his problem’. I said ‘wow’
I was cross about his attitude but furious about the time I had wasted. It wasn’t like I
was buying a pair of shoes. It was a work job on my day off. I called their customer
services department. They weren’t open either, despite the website saying they were, and
the answer message referred me back to the website with a cheery ‘thank
you and goodbye.’ I emailed my annoyance instead and received a generic reply from
someone called Liam, who apologised and said it would be referred to the store manager
and then some pasted in, generic text: ‘Your
feedback is very important to us. We can't tell you the outcome of your complaint due to data protection laws bla bla bla’ I was a little insulted with his disingenuous response, so I replied saying so. This email was responded to by someone
else with a similar apology and the same generic, cut and paste text. I replied again, and the
same response came back from someone else. Out of sheer curiosity I sent another reply and the same thing happened a fourth
time, at which point I had to admit defeat. In fairness, my angst had been replaced with bemusement, so
if their desire was to disarm me it had totally worked!
Is this passive aggressive 'service recovery' tactic intentionally designed so
the customer eventually loses the will to live? Is there some highly paid psychologist
and maths genius that got together to come up with this magic formula? If so I would
like to meet them to find out how exactly this is helping them to grow revenue
and improve margins. I mean, am I missing something?
In case you are wondering: No. I have not heard back from the store manager. Quelle surprise!