It’s happened more times than I can count. I contact a business or organization to follow up on a matter that has not been completed and what do I get? Excuses. It usually goes something like this…
Me: “I wanted to check on the status of… I was told last time I called it would be ready by…”
Representative: (looking and/or sounding disgusted) “Ughhh, I can’t believe this! I TOLD “Bill” to do that and he must not have done it! I can’t believe him…”
People often use this type of excuse-making because they want to deflect responsibility away from themselves. After all, it’s not their fault, right?
There are many topics we could get into regarding scenarios like this, such as customer service, professionalism, etc. However, I want to zero in on a very important issue. In any business or organization, situations like this will arise where you simply “dropped the ball” or the customer perceives that your company has not lived up to their expectations (perception is reality). When this happens (not if, but when), your company or organization is at the crossroads; a defining moment with two possibilities. You can restore or destroy confidence in your company or organization in 15 seconds simply by how you respond. If you are looking to destroy your reputation and your customer’s confidence in your organization, then simply respond similar to the example cited above. If you want to salvage and restore any fragile confidence your customer still has in you, follow these 3 easy steps:
Step 1: GET OVER YOURSELF. No one cares about your excuses of why something didn’t get done. Swallow your pride and admit the shortcoming (even if you don’t think it’s your fault).
Step 2: APOLOGIZE. Not a lazy, “I-don’t-really-mean-it” apology… a real one. And don’t blame anyone else for what’s happening. You are guilty by association. The reputation of your company or organization is in question! Your customer only has as much confidence in you as you have in your co-workers. Don’t ever run them down to anyone!
Step 3: BECOME THE SOLUTION. Don’t tell your customer you’ll get someone to fix the mess. YOU fix it! Sure, it may mean you have to speak with the person who really dropped the ball, but the customer is done with that person and now it’s up to you! Remember, your personal reputation is on the line as well. From now on, you follow up and make sure they are not only satisfied, but thrilled with you and your company. Anything less is unacceptable to the customer and it should be to you too!
If you will follow these 3 simple steps there will rarely be a customer you cannot win over. You will have gone from losing a customer to winning over a loyal one. You will have restored confidence in your business or organization.