Mara Goncalves “did the unthinkable” last week and accidentally locked her baby in her car but her Facebook post on how the infant was rescued and the exemplary customer service she received has now gone viral.
Customer service experts say it shows how customers don’t just share negative experiences online.
Goncalves says she took the keys out of the ignition of her car, put them on her purse on the passenger seat and then accidentally pressed the lock button rather than the unlock button before closing her door.
“Went to open the door where my daughter was, then it hit me. OMG!!” she posted on Facebook.
Goncalves says she then called some locksmiths who couldn’t get to her on time.
She then called her roadside assistance company National Roadservice Australia who told Goncalves her package did not include lock-outs.
“I asked if I could add that now and they said ‘No your package doesn’t allow that’, I gave him a loud colourful few words and hung up shaking,” Goncalves says.
Goncalves then called the RACV and their employee Steven Kendall arrived in 20 minutes.
“I then asked Steve how much I owed him because I wasn’t a member (I didn’t care how much) he then proceeded to say ‘it’s a courtesy call’,” Goncalves posted.
“I replied ‘what do you mean?’ He said “RACV will never ever allow a child to be locked in a car’.”
“I was gobsmacked, I just hugged him in tears! Needless to say, you have a new customer RACV! Well done!”
The Facebook post has received over 72,000 likes, a response Goncalves told SmartCompany she never expected.
“No way. It was unbelievable,” she says.
“People are sick and tired of seeing doom and gloom on the news and on the internet it’s good to see something positive and with a good outcome.”
Goncalves says the post has encouraged many customers to share their positive experiences with the RACV and for others to sign up.
“I think RACV has got a few more customers now,” she says.
Research published last year by cloud contact centre vendor NewVoiceMedia shows bad customer service costs Australian businesses $8 billion.
Brett Waters of NewVoiceMedia told SmartCompany just as bad customer service is costly to business, good customer service can benefit the bottom line.
“While a lot of us in the tech world talk about customer relationship management it is really people, process and technology that come together,” Waters says.
“Regardless of the technology [National Roadside Service] didn’t take the time to understand the nature of the call. On the other side RACV obviously have a process that allows some flexibility in its approach to its business where there are circumstances that dictate doing something in this case for free.”
Waters says the power of the internet means “customers have a voice today more than ever before”.
Associate professor Yelena Tsarenko of Monash University says Goncalves’ experience highlights the “service recovery paradox” where customers are happier after a service failure has been rectified than they were before.
“[The RACV] converted her to customer delight,” he says.
“That company not only satisfied but delighted her by going above and beyond its duties.”
Tsarenko says the experience shows how good customer service can turn a client into a strong advocate for your business.
She says negative experiences spread quickly online but positive experiences are usually only shared if they are exceptional.
“Only if they are really delighted will they try to disseminate this news,” she says. “Usually with a positive experience the customer takes it as this is how it should be.”
National Roadservice Australia spokesman Rohan Martin told News Goncalves did not mention a child was locked in the car.
“If a child was mentioned, National Roadservice Australia would have urgently arranged for a provider to unlock the vehicle,” he said.