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Better Business Idea #55

What to do when you make a service error

© 2002 by Michael C. Gray

January 28, 2002

Since businesses are collections of human beings, inevitably mistakes will occur.

Jan Carlzen calls each encounter of a customer with a representative of your company a "moment of truth." Each is an opportunity to fulfill or exceed your company's promises and delight the customer or to disappoint the customer. Occasionally, we will fall on our face. The question is, "What will we do about it?"

In an interview with Joe Polish, customerologist Jerry Wilson, author of Word of Mouth Marketing, says, "You only have one chance to make a good last impression!"

According to Jerry Wilson, the best approach when an error is made is to first, apologize. "We really messed up on this. I'm sorry. I apologize." Then, try to make amends. "What can we do to make it right?"

You might be surprised at the reasonable reply of your customer.

Joe Polish shared an experience in the interview. Once he had been in a restaurant with a group of friends and experienced very poor service. The server brought some lovely desserts to the table. "We really apologize for the service problems you had tonight. Please accept these desserts with our compliments."

Instantly, the group was changed to raving fans! The situation was totally turned around.

Remember that a service error can present an opportunity to make a good last impression!

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You can't prevent all mistakes, so how do you deal with errors when they occur?

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Michael Gray, CPA
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