How much money could one bad customer service incident cost your company?

What is the lifetime value of just one of your customers? How much could one bad customer service incident cost your company? I hope you pay very careful attention to this article because at the end I am going to give you a quiz question to test your observation.

OK, so here is the story. This morning myself and my partner were driving back home after a few days away at the seaside. Just before getting home we decided to stop off at the Elland branch of Morrisons supermarket in Yorkshire, where we were going to do some shopping and grab a snack to eat in their café.

We were intending to spend about £30 on goods in the shop, but first we went into the self-service café for some food. On our tray we put a bottle of spring water, two packs of sandwiches, and two packets of crisps (these are listed on the shelf as “free” when you purchase a sandwich). We also ordered two small portions of chips which (according to the sign at the entrance) cost 60 pence each when purchased with sandwiches.

At the checkout we were given the bill which was several pounds more than we expected (the exact bill should have come to £6.85). So we questioned the amount and were bluntly told that it must be correct because the till said so. (In the infamous words of the ‘Little Britain’ sketch: “The computer says no.”)

We looked again at the bill and realised that we had been charged for the crisps (which were supposed to be free) and also overcharged by 80 pence for the chips. We told the cashier about this mistake and she incredibly claimed that the signs relating to the crisps and chips did not exist - and no such offer was available!!

So we insisted that she go and have a look round the corner at the signs which we had clearly seen ourselves less than two minutes earlier. She refused, but on our insistence, she reluctantly got a colleague to do it for her. 

Boy was he furious!! He was visibly annoyed that us mere customers had dared to question the bill. But he went off with my partner who showed him the large signs clearly saying that: (a) crisps ARE free when purchased with sandwiches, and (b) chips are 60 pence per portion - exactly as we said.

He stormed back to the cashier, making tutting noises at my partner and rolling his eyes at her as if to say she had wasted his time for the sake of saving a couple of quid.

My partner asked: “Do I get an apology?” He refused to apologise, and just gave us a disgusted look. We were pretty shocked by this behaviour (after all, we were right and he was wrong). So she repeated again: “Is that an apology then?” and his only words were a very blunt and terse “OK love.”

Was this the end of the matter? NOPE!!

We said to the cashier: “Now we have proved we are right, can we pay the correct amount please?” And (wait for it) she actually said “no”. Amazingly, we STILL had to pay the higher (incorrect) amount because her till was coming up with this figure and she could apparently do nothing to change it.

At this point, faced with two incredibly rude and unhelpful staff, we decided to leave the tray on the counter and walk out. 

Due to this appalling rude customer service we didn’t bother to eat in their café, and we also didn’t buy our groceries from the store either. We drove to the Brighouse branch of Tesco instead.

So as I said at the start of this article, I am now going to give you a quiz question to test how much you have been paying attention:

QUESTION: How much money will Morrisons lose as a result of this incident?

a) £6.85
b) £36.85
c) Many thousands of pounds