Let’s face it, mistakes are going to happen. Sometimes you are going to fail to meet your Customers’ expectations, and in those moments, it will come down to how well those mistakes are handled.
The first thing you need to do is let go of the expectation that you are going to be perfect all the time. Strive for it. Ask for it. And expect it. But at the end of the day, you have real live folks working for you and not robots. Which is good, because robots are scary! But with real, live, flesh and blood employees you are invariably going to have mistakes.
Customers are exceedingly kind when it comes to service miscues if you take great care with proper Service Recovery.
Here are some tips to help you when things go sideways:
Listen: Upset Customer have a lot to say, so best to break out those fabulous listening skills and pay attention. Take notes, ask questions, but most importantly, let them talk. Sometimes it is enough for a Customer to give voice to their displeasure, so resist the urge to interrupt or let your attention wander. They will eventually run out of gas, so hang in there.
Empathize: True understanding can’t be reached unless you take the time to truly look at things from your Customer’s point of view. Especially useful here is the idea of repeating back key phrases and internalizing how you would feel if this was happening to you. Often what seems like an irrational request or over-the-top reaction seems much more reasonable when you understand the crux of the dissatisfaction. This is good place to use your heart as well as your head.
Apologize: If you made mistake, own up and apologize. You can certainly offer to replace the item or correct the mistake if applicable, but often the fix is far simpler that folks make it. Some businesses fail to realize the power of a sincere and heartfelt apology and that it should be specific and never caveated with excuses. Too often folks try the “I am sorry but. . .” approach, not realizing that everything they say after the “but” is irrelevant and seen by the Customer as an excuse. Sometimes just saying you are sorry is enough
Resolve: Deliver a product that is executed correctly, apologize once more, and thank the customer for giving you a chance to repair the problem. Keep the guest updated while the item is being fixed, enhanced, or replaced. There is nothing more deflating for a Customer than to go through the trouble of complaining and explaining only to be met with the same substandard execution. Speed here is crucial and the best way to achieve that is by making sure that your team knows exactly what they can do to correct. Make sure they know that they can replace soggy French fries or a toy with a missing piece without prior approval. They should also know how to report the resolution and at what point they need to engage a Leader for approval.
Never Repeat: When Customers complain it provides a great opportunity to learn and improve. The key here is not to repeat the same mistakes – Customers are forgiving to a point but they can lose confidence quickly. If you take the time to share these issues organizationally, then everyone can learn from these miscues and improve.
The key here is embrace these service opportunities to get better and make sure that your Customers leave satisfied and happy. If you take the time to make things right when service goes wrong, you’ll be surprised at how willing your Customers are to give you another chance.
Until next time, be sure to treat your Customers like cherished friends.
Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader and Trainer