July 23, 2015 – Vicki Pero – Insights

Are Customer Service Mistakes the End of the Story?

IMAG6657I was out to dinner last evening and observed a waiter who broke a water glass on a table where a couple was having dinner. This was an honest mistake that anyone could have made, but what he did next was a conscious choice. He did a preliminary clean up of the water and glass on the table and then proceeded to ignore the table for several minutes while delivering drinks and providing service to other tables in his area.

There is a theme worth exploring when it comes to errors while delivering customer service. I think most people would agree that an honest mistake is not that big of a deal. It’s the response to it that makes or breaks the complete customer service experience. So often, once a mistake is made, the customer service interaction falls into a tailspin, because the employee simply gives up. This relates back to a common misperception that once a mistake is made, there’s no coming back from it. In fact, studies have proven that customers are actually more loyal after a successful service recovery than when no disruption of service is experienced at all.

If you manage a team responsible for delivering customer service, emphasize this point to them. Give time and attention to what should be done after a mistake has been made, a customer becomes upset and so on.

To highlight an example on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a friend who owns a landscaping business, and he recently used too much algaecide in a customer’s water feature and several year old, large gold fish died in the process. So how did he recover from this situation? First he owned the mistake and apologized profusely. Then he followed up by replacing the fish and tying a bouquet of helium balloons congratulating the customer on his new arrivals to the fountain that feeds the water feature. His customer was completely blown away and has relayed the story to other potential customers.

The story at the restaurant didn’t have the same outcome. When the waiter did return to the table he found more large pieces of glass and continued to clean them up. The couple looked less than pleased as they wrapped up their evening. If you asked me, this was a missed opportunity to turn an honest mistake into a customer service success.

Are you interested in more information about customer service training? uDrive subscribers have access to tools and templates that can help. These can be found in the Resources for the Parking Manager section of the site.