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IT’S YOUR BUSINESS: Customers always remember the way you handle a sticky situation

By Joe Smith
When things go awry, make sure the customer is completely satisfied with how you handle the mistake. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE

By Joe Smith

Special to the Record

No one likes to admit that despite all the customer care programs, and the fact that you are the best customer-service-oriented company in town, things can go wrong.

These kinds of situations test the real measure of your company’s willingness to showcase that customer care is not just a slogan on your wall. And if you are into slogans, remember this one when it comes to rectifying a problem: “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”

Simply making it right when things go awry is one of the most powerful ways that a business can generate not just customer appreciation and goodwill but also loyalty and repeat business that will generate much more revenue than the initial sale. Not to forget, of course, the value that a positive experience will have on your customer’s family, friends and acquaintances.

Over the past few months, there have been several situations that have highlighted the fact that things can go wrong and sometimes in a big way. The recent disaster that befell one of the larger internet providers is a great example of the kind of unexpected adverse effects that can happen to a business. How they respond will make for a good case study and learning experience of what to do and not do for marketing practitioners for years to come.

Another situation that has been hitting the news for months is the worldwide phenomenon of missing luggage. The way it is being handled now is more of a blame game rather than anyone coming up with concrete solutions. News article after news article quotes either airline spokespeople or airport personnel offering a laundry list of who or what to blame for a situation that seems to be out of control. In fact, to highlight the absurdity of the situation, one airport spokesperson in Europe blamed a lot of the chaos on passengers’ black suitcases which he said are hard to distinguish from each other. This is certainly not the way to deal with the situation.

If and when things go wrong here are a few tips for you and your staff to remember.

• Own up to the problem right away.

• Apologize, don’t make excuses.

• Outline how you will resolve the issue.

• Provide an honest explanation of what went wrong.

• Find a way to compensate your customer whether it is in the form of a discount, gift card or merchandise.

Do all of the above as quickly as possible and follow up to make sure your customer is happy.

Do it right and your reward will not only be improved customer satisfaction and loyalty but the creation of a powerful ally and advocate who will have good things to say about you and your business.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at