While hanging with a friend recently, the subject of what to eat for dinner came up. After discussing some possibilities, we agreed on pizza. The next decision—where to go—turned out to be an easy one, because in her mind, there was only one option: the local outlet of Garlic Jim’s.
Curious, I asked her why. She then told me this story:
Shortly after moving to the neighborhood, she had ordered a pizza from Garlic Jim’s. It was soon delivered by a young guy. When she opened the box, however, the pie was folded over and slightly burned. She suspected it might have been dropped. It certainly didn’t look appetizing.
She called the store to complain. The store’s owner got on the phone and immediately apologized. He promised to refund her credit card, and then offered her another pizza on the house.
Shortly afterward, a woman arrived with a replacement pie. It turned out to be the owner’s wife. She apologized as well and said she wanted to make sure this pizza was perfect. She then thanked my friend for calling to give them the feedback and the opportunity to correct the problem.
The pizza turned out to be delicious. But even more impressive to my friend was the attitude of the owners and their commitment to making things right. It’s the reason she has made that Garlic Jim’s her exclusive pizza choice and regularly takes her friends and family there.
It’s also the reason the owners have seen their sales increase every year, despite the previous owner struggling stay in business.
Because the reality is that people aren’t just buying a product or service from you—they’re buying an experience. And when that experience is bad, you and your people can either make it worse or turn it around. Guess which one results in greater customer loyalty and higher sales?
Another reality is that no matter how good your company is, occasionally there will be screw-ups. When they occur, what lengths are you willing to go to in order to turn an angry customer into a thrilled one? What lengths are your people empowered to go to? And do they understand why and how to do so?
A mistake doesn’t have to result in a lost customer. It can actually be an opportunity to secure a client for life. Turn the experience around for them. Impress them with your customer care. Make them feel valued, important, and appreciated. Give them a reason to keep buying from you and they will.
So to sum up, when you screw up, and your customer pipes up, don’t let them get fed up. (Especially if they throw up.) Instead, show up, step up, make up, and follow up. Your customer will light up and your sales will go up.