A couple of days ago, I sent this simple e-mail question to Mikasa (the china, crystal, flatware, etc. company).
From: Leslie O'Flahavan
Subject: Question about small plates to match Sedona Dinnerware
I have purchased 4 settings each of Sedona Brown and Sedona Blue dinnerware for my niece who is getting married. I want to buy her a set of small appetizer plates to go with this dinnerware, plates smaller than the 8.75" salad plate, which I've already bought. Can you suggest a small plate (5" or 6") in a complementary Mikasa pattern?
Apparently, this question is so weighty and the risks of answering it are so great that Mikasa deemed it better not to answer at all. Here's Mikasa's reply to me.
To: Leslie O'Flahavan
Subject: Re: Question about small plates to match Sedona Dinnerware (Le500191)
Good Morning,Thank you for contacting us. We are hesitant to recommend patterns that compliment. Tastes vary so much that we do not like to make these type of recommendations. We do apologize.
If you need further assistance, please feel free to call Customer Service at 1-866-645-2721 between 8 am and 9 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday and from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday.
Mikasa Customer Service
Besides being mystifying, Mikasa's response violates the rules of good customer service e-mail:
- Answer the customer's question. Surely Mikasa could answer my question "Do you have a little plate that matches?" with a simple yes or no. While I'd prefer a yes answer, and a link to the product I'm looking for, I'll accept a no. I just don't understand the huge risk in making a recommendation ... about appetizer plates! If I don't think the plates match, I won't buy them. Mikasa's fussy non-answer is infuriating.
- When presented with an opportunity, make the sale. I wonder how the execs at Lifetime Brands, Inc. (Mikasa is a division) feel about this lost sale. Customer service is costly enough without missing opportunities to make a sale and build customer loyalty.
- Don't take yourself too seriously. It's not as if I've written to the National Cancer Institute to ask "Radiation or chemotherapy?" Mikasa should be able to answer this question.
- Check your spelling. I wrote "...complementary Mikasa pattern" and Mikasa replied "...patterns that compliment." Usually, I don't get too bent out of shape about spelling mistakes; they happen. I occasionally make spelling mistakes myself. But I lobbed the correct spelling Mikasa's way; the least they could do was lob it back to me.
I'm interested in your thoughts about this e-mail. Is your company hesitant to recommend products when asked? Can you see Mikasa's point? Or is my point much, much clearer?
-- Leslie O'Flahavan