Every business encounters customer complaints throughout the year. No matter how hard you try, someone is bound to have a bad experience. How you handle it determines the impression you leave with your customer and whether that person stays a customer.
Once a complaint has arrived, your first step is to acknowledge it with a reply. That lets the customer know you’re on top of the situation and are seriously concerned about the matter.
Your goal, of course, is to satisfy your customer. Provide the proper resolution, and your customer is bound to remain loyal. What happens if you can’t provide exactly what the customer seeks? And, does your solution have to be significant or costly? An incident I encountered may offer some insight.
A friend and I signed up for a “happy hour” cruise offered by a high-end hotel. This well-known destination sits on a beautiful lake in Wisconsin; the cruise was designed to last about 45 minutes and include a cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres. The cruise was nice and the drinks refreshing, but the egg rolls were a no-show. The hotel forgot to load the food onto the boat.
Afterward a bunch of us stomped up to the front desk to read someone the riot act. Personally, as I told my friend, I’d settle for a drink coupon. In my mind the oversight wasn’t that big of a deal.
Several moments later a manager approached us with an offer: Voucher for a free drink to each passenger. So my friend and I grabbed a cold drink and enjoyed a nice, relaxing visit on their patio overlooking the lake.
Was a drink a fair trade for the missing egg rolls? In my mind it was. And just as important was the gesture from the resort. The manager apologized – as had the bartender on the boat, from whom I learned of the gaffe – which set the proper tone.
Every situation is unique, but you don’t always have to go overboard (no pun intended) to satisfy a customer. Own up to the mistake, apologize sincerely, and offer a quick resolution. Often a modest gesture will be enough. It was with us that fall day at the resort.
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