July 17, 2016

When You Fail A Customer

It happens; in spite of all our precautions, we sometimes fail to live up to the expectations of a customer. We do everything that we can to prevent a mistake or problem, but there are times that we just mess up. It does not matter who is responsible, the mistake has been made, and the customer is upset, disappointed, and not happy with us.

As responsible and professional business owners, we endeavor to deal with our customers in an ethical, honest, and truthful manner. We have products and services that are what our customers need and want, and we try to make the purchase process as easy and enjoyable as possible. Sooner or later we fail to deliver to the expectations of our customer. It is what we do when we fail that makes us successful.

None of us are perfect in the operation of our business. Maybe we have a misunderstanding with a prospect that leads to a problem in a customer’s purchase. Perhaps we make a mistake in the order process, or possibly the customer did not correctly tell us what they wanted. It doesn’t matter what happens, we have a situation that has not played out to expectations, and we must fix it.

When we are up to our rear ends in alligators, it doesn’t do any good to fight over who didn’t drain the swamp. We must fix the problem, and that would include trying to bring the customer to the position where they should have been without any problem. If we cannot do so, we must do whatever will result in them being as close as possible.

Whatever it takes is up to us and the customer. It may mean that we deliver the requested product or service late; it also may include an upgrade for no additional cost or some other compensation to the customer. We should do whatever necessary, within reason, to make the situation correct. Gratitude Marketing means doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason; it means great customer service.

What if we are not at fault when the problem occurs? What if the customer is at fault? That means that we must make a decision that we can live with, knowing that the decision may have consequences that may have adverse influence on us. If the problem is the fault of anyone in our organization, we must never blame the associate to the customer. It is our problem, not the customer’s. If the person at fault is our employee, it is our problem. Resolve the situation and deal with the employee later.

Telling the wronged customer that our employee is at fault is a copout on our part, and the customer will take that as an indication that we do not have control of our business. Maybe they use that as a basis for severing their relationship with us. We must be in control of our business, and we must shoulder the unsuccessful situations as well as the successful ones. It is our business to control our operation, not our customer’s.

Gratitude Marketing means that we control everything about our businesses, the good, the bad, and the ugly. We enjoy the fruits of our successes and the impact of our failures. Doing whatever is right to fix our mistakes can bring us business success as well as additional customers and business partners. Our partners will support us when we do the right thing when mistakes happen, and will understand that mistakes do happen. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Jim. I've always believed in, and almost always practiced, taking the blame and giving the credit. If you are the boss and someone who works for you screws up, there is something wrong with your system. And you own that systems. Ergo, you are ultimately responsible for all screw-ups. Could be that the employee did indeed screw up but that, as you say, is an issue for an internal action, not to be shared with the customer. On the other hand, giving credit to the person who did a good job when you get praise is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to build employee loyalty.