Every business sometimes messes up. The job is not done to the proper standard, the food is not up to scratch, the service is second-rate, the product doesn’t meet expectations, and so on.
The result is – an unhappy customer.
As customers, we have all been in that position. And the funny thing is that we often don’t really remember the incident. What we remember is what the supplier of the goods or service did about it.
I had a meal at a restaurant once, and ordered some fish. When my meal arrived, I found that I didn’t really like the way it had been cooked. There was nothing really wrong with the meal – it just wasn’t to my taste, and so I didn’t finish it. When the waitress cleared the table, she noted my unfinished meal, and asked me what was wrong with the fish. I told her it was fine, just not to my taste. Then the manager came to ask me what was wrong with the meal, and I told him the same thing. When I came to pay the bill, the restaurant didn’t charge me for my meal – even though I had told them it was not their fault in any way.
What I really remember about the incident, and what I talk about, is the way the restaurant handled the whole thing. I have been back time and time again, because they know how to treat their customers.
It’s not what happened, it’s what they did about it.
The trick is to have the customer leave with a good memory, and the restaurant did that in spades.
Second incident. I had a bathroom renovated. It involved the retiling of the walls and floor, and installation of new tap ware. I used a kitchen and bathroom guy I had used before, and on his recommendation, we re-installed the old shower screen, as it was in good condition.
Over time, we noticed that the shower leaked. The plumber we consulted showed us that the shower screen had been badly installed, and that the base had, in fact, been made too small for the screen. This was obviously the fault of the installer.
When I contacted the guy who had done the renovation, I got a stone wall. First he avoided me, then he made out as if the use of the old shower screen had not been his idea. He didn’t accept any responsibility, and offered to fix it at my cost.
Here is a business not prepared to stand by its work. I had been quite happy with the first job he did for me, and the second seemed quite well managed, too. I was happy to recommend him to friends.
Now I certainly won’t get him to do the repair, and I won’t be recommending him to anyone at all. In fact, I will be telling anyone I know what a bad experience I had, and will let all and sundry know that he doesn’t stand by his work.
What I now remember about this business is not the good work they did on the two jobs, but the shoddy way he treated me when there was a problem. He hasn’t left me with a smile on my face, or a good memory.
How do you handle your mess-ups? Do you leave the customer with a smiling face, or do you “stand on your principles”, and leave them with a memory of how badly you handled the complaint?
It’s not what happens, it’s what you do about it. Always leave your customers with a smiling face and a good memory, no matter how badly you may have messed up.
You’ll be surprised how many referrals a well-handled mess-up can bring you!
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