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Thursday, July 2, 2009

How a Bad Salad Leads to Happy Customers and What Your Business Can Learn From It

Small Biz Bee Blog

by smallbizbee

MilkshakeMy … wife … came home from work yesterday and was bubbling over with excitement. …

“What’s up?” I ask, “Why so cheery?”

“Not much”, she says all perky like, “Just enjoying my FREE 5 berry milkshake is all"…

“Free…how’d you manage that?”

They Messed Up My Salad - It Was Great!

And from there she launches into a story about how she went to a local burger chain for lunch, and they totally screwed up her salad order, had to remake it, and it took an extra 10 minutes before she got her food.

… Recognizing they maybe needed to do some service recovery with my wife, they gave her a $10 coupon for her troubles, and the salad was free (notice the free salad didn’t carry the same weight with her as the free milkshake).

So with her new found riches she had stopped off and got a milkshake on the way home, thus the good mood.

She had been telling everyone she knew … about her “good fortune”.

In her mind, the burger joint that completely botched her salad and cost her 10 minutes out of her day, walked on water and could do no wrong, and she was even recommending them to anyone who’d listen.

What’s Can We Learn

I think this story is a good illustration of the power righting a wrong. …

It’s almost as if she was happier that they screwed up, and made it right, than if they had of done it right the first time! They turned their mistake into a positive “word of mouth” worthy event.

How to Apply This to Your Business

1. You have to be doing things right most of the time for this to work.

2. Correct all wrongs immediately, and take ownership of them (the wrong salad could have been blamed on the new cook, but instead the establishment took responsibility and didn’t place blame)

3. Sometimes, take responsibility for miniscule mistakes. Once, Starbucks gave me a free drink because it took them 1 minute to make my mocha instead of 30 seconds. This reinforces in your customers mind your high standards, and service expectations.

Why It Works

1. You’re taking ownership, and in the customers mind acknowledging they did not get something from you they should have. Too often businesses try to sweep mistakes under the rug, fearing customers will be upset, only to upset customers more by skirting the issue.

2. You give your customer a reason to come back and try you out again. Once they see you normally get it right, you’ll have won them over. They’ll know it’s a rare occurrence you aren’t perfect.

3. You give them something very easy to talk about. They’ll be singing your praises for righting a wrong, just like my wife did. And a good story like that spreads.

Try it with your own business. The next time you don’t meet a customers expectations, do some service recovery. Or better yet, use the Starbuck’s method once in a while to reinforce your extremely high standards for quality and service. See if you can get them to talk about how great you are for screwing up!

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