A few weeks ago while getting my car serviced, I learned 6 valuable lessons about how to make your customers (or clients) happy, even when things go terribly wrong. I’ll save you all the details of the situation, but a job that was supposed to take 30 minutes ended up taking 7 hours. Through the 7-hour long process I dealt with two managers; the first manager avoided me at all costs, and the second manager stepped up and met the challenge head-on—he was a true “leader.” By watching this leader, I learned six valuable lessons that can pay huge dividends with your customers if you follow them.
1. Face-to-Face Conversation
The second manager—let’s call him the “leader”—arrived at work about 5 hours after the incident occurred. However, the first thing he did was find me and talk to me, face-to-face. He knew the situation was very bad and it became his immediate priority. Unlike how the first manager spent 5 hours avoiding me, the “leader” found me and ensured me he would take care of everything. In today’s tech-savvy super-busy world, we often forget how powerful face-to-face conversations can be.
2. Honesty… Always
The “leader” told me everything about the situation including the minor details, then he listened to my concerns, and answered all of my questions honestly. He explained what had gone wrong and all the necessary steps they needed to take in order to correct the problem. His openness and honesty immediately built a sense of trust with me. Honesty is always the best policy; even the “small fibs” can do severe damage to your customer base.
3. No Sugar-Coating!
Unlike the first manager who kept making promises he couldn’t deliver, the “leader” was respectful enough not to sugarcoat the situation. He told me exactly what to expect and the severity of the situation. He didn’t make any promises just to make me feel better, and he informed me that it would be approximately another 2 hours because he wanted to ensure everything was fixed properly. I appreciated that I was getting the facts and not a bunch of meaningless talk.
4. Keep The Customer/Client Informed
The “leader” kept me updated about every 30 minutes or so by explaining what was going on, and how they were progressing. I noticed the “leader” was keeping other customers informed as well, and I could sense the change in environment since the “leader” started working… everyone in the waiting room seemed to be a bit happier and calmer. When you know your customers are waiting, keeping them informed will keep them calm and out of your people’s business.
5. Take Full Responsibility
Amazingly, even though the second manager (the “leader”) wasn’t on duty when the major blunder occurred on my car, he still took full responsibility for the actions of his team. He took on the burden that the first manager refused to accept or talk about. The “leader” told me he didn’t know how the incident happened, but he assured me that he was getting to the bottom of it, and that he would fix it. I instantly connected with this “leader” because he genuinely cared about not only fixing my problem, but also about preventing it from happening again. I could see that the entire work team was much more at ease as well once he arrived—you could see they trusted him.
6. Resolve the Issue or Throw in Some “Comps”
The last hour of my ordeal seemed to take forever; however, the “leader” not only resolved the issue correctly, he also threw in a few comps to make the entire situation sting a little less. These comps were nothing out of the ordinary, but they were enough to show that this leader cared. That caring and compassion was enough to keep me as a future customer.
Run to your Challenges! If you notice, there was one primary difference between these two managers; one ran away from the challenge and one ran to the challenge! If the second manager (the “leader”) had not run at the challenges, the entire work team would have felt defeated, and I would no longer be a customer. Running to your challenges can boost the motivation of your entire team and increase your profits. Your team will know that you are there for them in difficult times, and your customers will see that you truly care about them—which will create return customers.
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