It never ceases to amaze me how many lessons we learn several times over in our lives and in our professions. One of the most recent I’ve been reminded of is that it’s not always mistakes that lose customers.
The other week I received a call from a very valuable customer. Not long into answering the call, I realized I was dealing with a complaint. My heart sank. My mind reeled with possible reasons why the mistake he spoke of would have happened in the first place. This client paid us to complete a job to his expectations, and he wasn’t satisfied. I felt terrible. What if we were to lose his business?
I continued to listen to his entire story and told him that I completely understood his anger and frustration. Not because this is “what customer service people say,” but because I really I did. I would feel the same way if the tables were turned. I explained our internal processes and even threw out some ideas about how we could improve our processes to prevent this from happening again.
He truly appreciated that I avoided taking a defensive stance and showed him that this problem was one of the most important things I had going in my day. I expressed my sincere apologies and made sure he understood that mistakes and errors happen in business, but our job as a service organization is to identify them and fix them for good.
After discussing options for fixing the issue, by the end of the call we were talking about his son’s senior trip to visit his favorite college. It was a strange, but welcome transition, to start out by addressing a complaint — feeling almost like someone had declared war! – and ending the conversation as friends with a common goal.
Once again, I’ve learned that it’s not always mistakes that lose customers. Mistakes happen in businesses every day, but it’s the way you handle those mistakes that will keep customer coming back.
Have you ever re-learned a lesson like this in your business? What’s your most successfully solved “complaint” story?