Turning mistakes into loyalty

Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where everything went exactly the way we wanted everyday, with every transaction we touched? Imagine a world where every process was foolproof and worked 100% correctly all the time. A place where every customer got what he or she needed, on time, every time. EERRRRRCCCHHH (Insert sound of needle scratching record). Perfection doesn’t happen.

We know perfection isn’t a reasonable goal because we set customer satisfaction benchmarks to metrics under 100%. And, that’s completely reasonable.

Mistakes happen. Weather happens. Life happens. How companies respond to what causes customers strife is where: Loyalty happens.

Take Southwest Airlines (Yes, a happy story involving an airline):

Southwest has a 10:50 pm flight out of Denver. Considering the late hour, delays can make the drive home dangerous for a weary traveler.

On this particular Thursday, this flight was over an hour late departing. Every 15 minutes, another announcement of a further delay for another different reason. Turns out the crux of the delay was that they were holding the Denver flight so an arriving flight of 30 eighth graders and their chaperones could make it back to their home destination. OK, that’s a pretty good excuse, but it doesn’t make a worn out business traveler who won’t get home until 3:00 am feel much better. He’s definitely going to avoid that flight next time.

You know what makes him feel better? THIS!

It’s the response to the mistake or the “what happens” circumstances that create the magic. The power in Southwest’s response is in their acknowledging the delay, which shows respect. They show a little extra “luv” by offering a discount on the next flight.

As Amy Gallo writes in her Harvard Business Review article, “You’ve Made a Mistake, Now What”: “First and foremost, it’s critical to be transparent, candid, and own up to the error. Don’t try to blame others. The key is to be action-oriented and focus on the future.”

Recovering from genuine errors can be easy. If you act quickly and communicate openly, customers are likely to forgive you. Just don’t make a habit of it or your recovery efforts will turn into expensive, empty promises that don’t lead to loyalty.

What are your most elegant recoveries and how did you get there?

Monica Tarr

Monica Tarr

Monica Tarr is the President of Bennett Bay Consulting helping contact centers improve customer experiences, empower teams, and discover efficiencies. Monica’s uncanny ability to blend customer insights, employee behavior, ... Web: www.loveyourcustomers.com Details