“It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
- John Wooden
Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we all screw up from time to time when dealing with our customers. When it happens, we have a choice to make; admit the error and make it right, or refuse to accept responsibility and create a poor customer experience. This article will focus on how we can “make it right.”
One thing all great leaders have in common is they are humble enough to admit when they are wrong—even if it stings. Great leaders have a way of admitting their errors and oversights in a way that makes everyone feel better—this is especially true when dealing with customers. Great leaders also produce followers who possess the same characteristics—including acknowledging their errors.
Recently, I went on a weekend camping & canoe trip with a group of guys from church, and we saw great leadership exemplified. Although we made our reservations for the campground nearly 4 months earlier, a few days before the trip we discovered the campground had not actually reserved our spots. However, they were quick to act and make it right, and our overall experience was great. Here’s 5 “little things” they did to make it right with us (their customers):
1. They admitted the error quickly to avoid escalating the situation or losing us as customers. If you admit your error quickly, the majority of customers will calm down and trust you will handle it properly.
2. They assured us they would fix the problem. Admitting an error is great only if you follow it up by fixing the problem. As soon as you tell people you will fix a problem, there is a much greater chance they will remain calm.
3. They quickly involved the right people to correct the error. Too many times we try to fix somebody else’s error only to realize we don’t completely understand the problem. Get the right people involved quickly to ensure you correct the error completely. In the case of the campground, they notified the campground host to ensure the new spots would be the most adequate for our group.
4. They went out of their way by having the campground host call us prior to our arrival to personally answer all of our questions—they made it personal! When you go out of your way for your customers and make it personal, they appreciate your extra efforts. Going out of your way may seem like a hassle, but the personal relationship you build in the process will be well worth it!
5. They made it a point to follow up with us throughout our stay. In our specific case, the campground host checked up on us upon arrival to explain where all the sites were, and explained that our new spots were actually better than our original reserved spots. By following up with your customers after an error (or poor experience), you show them that you care about them during their entire experience… and that will keep them coming back!
A key to remember is that Great Customer Experience is primarily the responsibility of Leadership in your organization. Leaders must be willing to admit their errors and the errors of their people in order to make it right with their customers. The “little things” listed above cost the campground no extra money and barely any extra time, but it made all the difference between a great experience and a poor experience for my group. The choice is yours: fess up and make it right with your customers, or refuse to accept responsibility and create a poor customer experience… Personally, I recommend you choose to make it right!