Monday, January 17, 2011

Winning Customers and Clients by Owning Our Mistakes and Shortcomings

I recently returned from being out of town with a couple of clients. Over the course of two days, we were in a number of meetings, large and small, with clients, prospects, and joint-venture partners. After a group meeting the first morning, one of my clients went to lunch with a large group, while I and my other client went to lunch privately. (I just have to throw in here that we found an amazing little Thai restaurant just west of downtown L.A. It was nothing to look at, but the food…Wow! And the proprietor was the neatest lady you’d ever want to meet.)

When we rejoined the others after our heavenly meal, we discovered their lunch experience hadn’t been the pleasurable one in which we had basked. They had gone to a well-known, semi-pricey place near the Staples Center downtown. They ordered their food, then visited for 90 minutes before their lunches began coming out. By this time, they needed to leave to get to their scheduled appointments.

Not only had my client’s lunch showed up extremely late, it was ice (literally) cold. It appeared the “grilled” chicken had come directly out of a freezer and not even been warmed. Everyone got their lunches packed in to-go boxes and left…not at all pleased with their experience.

The two gentlemen who had organized this lunch group felt terrible and offered to pay for everyone’s lunch--a bill of somewhere around $650. They then went to the manager to explain the situation to see if the establishment wanted to own up to its shortcomings and give them a discount. When they finished sharing their story, the manager apologized sincerely and told them lunch was on him. The entire bill was covered.

The gentlemen were shocked!

What had developed into an unpleasant, uncomfortable situation for the people in that party (most of whom were very upset and swore they would never set foot into the establishment again), was immediately reversed as all were pleasantly surprised at this gesture of genuinely going the extra mile to make things right. While there were some conversations that afternoon about the less-than-acceptable dining experience, the bigger point was everyone’s disbelief that the manager so readily owned up to his staff’s mistakes and did the only thing he could at that point to try to make amends.

There are two morals to this story: 1.) We all stand prepared to receive much-deserved complements when we perform well for our clients. We should be equally prepared to take the heat when we fall short. 2.) A mom-and-pop Thai restaurant is almost always a good bet.

Here’s to your client satisfaction success!

Bryan Waldon Pope

No comments:

Post a Comment