It was Nov 21st and a start-up co-founder in Delhi needed to book a cab for his wife and daughter, who were supposed to go to a birthday party in the evening. In order to avoid any last minute issues, he booked Ola cabs, one of the popular Indian radio taxi services, by 11 AM for 5:15 PM departure from his home…
At 4:50 PM he received a call from his wife expressing her frustration towards Ola cabs, who’d just called her to inform about cancellation of the cab due to non-availability. He was about to enter into an important meeting but found himself in a difficult situation despite his best effort to book the cab well in time. He started looking for other options and called other radio taxi providers in Delhi.
In the middle of his efforts, he received a message from Ola cabs with details of the driver for the cab. He called the driver only to realize that the driver was at least 40 km away from his home and thus would not be of any help. He tried his best talking to other service providers but couldn’t find success till next 30 minutes. Finally, he gave up and had to accept that his 6-year daughter will have to miss much awaited birthday party of one of her best friends. Obviously it impacted his participation in the meeting at office.
He reached home frustrated and listened to his wife’s experience in dealing with Ola cabs’ customer service personnel. He decided that he would at least write a detailed review tomorrow.
In order to express his frustration, he tweeted his experience with Ola cabs.
Soon, he received a response on Twitter from Ola Cabs. They apologized, asked for details of his order and promised to do something.
While he shared his order details, he categorically told them that there’s nothing they can do now to control the damage.
Ola cabs had also mentioned that they would call him tomorrow. He received a call next day from one of the senior customer relationship managers at Ola cabs. The representative patiently heard his experience and once again apologized. The representative mentioned that he had listened to the conversations customer’s wife had with Ola cabs personnel a day before and deeply empathized with the customer for spoiling the party especially for the child.
Without any defense, the representative also apologized for the incorrect allotment of the cab. At the same time, the representative assured the customer that they will not let this experience repeat and will also do something to make up for their mistake.
While he was little settled, he was still considering writing a review. After reaching home, he was pleasantly surprised to know that his daughter was happy for the gift she had received from Ola cabs.
He was surely touched and decided to forgive Ola cabs and give them another chance. Obviously, he cancelled the idea of writing a review.
Do you want to know who’s the customer in this story? It’s me, who wrote this post.
As a co-founder of Digital Marketing education firm, I always love to learn and distill knowledge through real life experiences. My earlier experience of solving long pending problem with a large private bank through Twitter was very well received.
I would like to capture the key takeaways about managing a reputation from this personal experience.
i) Quick acknowledgement pacifies a frustrated customer: I was really angry and was all set to take revenge by writing a review. The moment Ola cabs acknowledged their mistake on Twitter and promised to call tomorrow, I was bit relaxed. If you can give the ‘experience of being heard’ to a dissatisfied customer, you’ve done half of the job.
ii) A genuine apology doesn’t hurt: There was no attempt from Ola cabs to defend their mistake and put the blame on someone else. The fact that they took responsibility of the situation encouraged me to give them another chance.
iii) Knowing the world of your customer is critical to winning his trust: There was genuine effort to understand the gravity of the situation. They could appreciate the emotional damage caused to my wife and my daughter.
iv) Creativity works even in crisis situations: Despite their promise to make up for the loss on the phone, I was sure that they would not be able to do anything as damage had already been done. The best I could expect was that they would send some typical gift. They choosing birthday cake as a gift was really creative and it surely demonstrated their ability to understand the customer. Moreover, the personalized message was an icing on the cake, which ensured that I dropped my idea of writing a review against them.
v) You can always convert a frustrated customer to your brand ambassador: The fact that I’ve written this article versus writing a review against them is live evidence.