Customers Don’t Buy Excuses !

no-excusesEver raised a concern about a product or a service with the seller, only to get an excuse in return ? The probable answer to this would be yes. Which brings me to the next, and most relevant, question. Did you buy it ? No, I’m not referring to the product. I’m referring to the excuse. Chances are that you didn’t.

The reason for this post is a recent incident – as fresh as yesterday. My wife and I were in a well-known retail chain’s outlet yesterday to buy our monthly groceries. We prefer to do our grocery shopping at the end of the month, rather than the beginning of the month in order to avoid the rush. It is far more comfortable, and less crowded. And for this very reason one would also expect the service to be better because the employees are not stressed out. But no. Service actually doesn’t exist at this particular chain, which advertises itself regularly as the most economical outlet for all your needs under one roof. However, my experience here has been that while you can get great price deals on groceries, the quality of the other items being sold by them is not too great, and the only reason that we shop here for groceries is the price deals on many of the items that they sell, and not for the service. And no, one doesn’t have to be a genius to figure out which chain I am referring to.

You might well ask me why we shop there in that case, when we know that the service doesn’t exist. The answer to that would be the pricing alone – admittedly, the savings are substantial. However, the least one would expect is to at least have fresh products on sale, especially when it comes to foodstuff. While searching for breads in their food zone, I stumbled across several packets of buns where the shelf-life had expired one day earlier. When I requested one of the staff nearby to call the section in-charge, he told me that the person in-charge wasn’t available !

When I insisted on seeing someone responsible, he finally managed to track down the head of the Foods section, and I brought to his attention the fact that they were selling expired foodstuff. His rejoinder to this somewhat surprised me. “Sir, this is actually from a new lot which was delivered to us today itself, and must have got mixed up at the supplier’s end itself.” Just like that.

When a responsible person in an organisation makes a statement like that, one begins to wonder whether there are actually any “responsible” persons in the organisation at all ? Even if one was to take his explanation at face value, one still cannot understand why no one checked the foodstuff for expiry dates before allowing it on to the shelves. Clearly, this was an excuse that I was not about to buy.

Which is the point of this post. No one buys excuses. Least of all customers. In my view, the right approach for them would have been to admit that there had been a mistake at their end, and that they would ensure that it did not happen again. Simple. Also acceptable. Because we are all humans and we all make mistakes. Accepting mistakes and apologising for them is usually the best policy in such cases. But the moment you start making excuses for the mistake, you are trying to shirk responsibility. And it would be good to remember that customers buy products and services. Not excuses. And for the same reason, they like to deal with those organisations who take responsibility of their products and services.