Righting business wrongs

Studies show that customers tend to be even more dissatisfied with a business after their complaint has been handled. That’s because most businesses do exactly what customers don’t want – they make excuses and shift the blame. Studies also show that when a complaint is handled properly (no blame-shift, no excuses), customers are likely to be more satisfied and more loyal than they were before they were allegedly ‘wronged.’

As businesses, we can’t float on the assumption that we’ll never make mistakes, and we certainly can’t deal with complaints in a ‘by the seat of your pants’ laissez faire manner. Complaints are a gift because they give us the opportunity to correct, build loyalty, and serve our clients well. The majority of complaints will go unspoken, unheard – or heard only in the peanut gallery without a chance to resolve. So when they come to the source, it is our duty to our clients to thank them and resolve the issue – quickly, and to the client’s satisfaction.

I can’t tell you better how to do it than this post at the Open Forum called The Art of Mea Culpa. Check it out. Not only does it tell you how it’s done right, it gives a concrete example of it being done right – via Twitter. To summarize the principles,

  1. Apoologize
  2. Admit fault
  3. Fix it
  4. Acknowledge what’s broken (trust, in this case) and work to fix it
  5. Do it quickly
  6. Do it publicly

And we’d add one to that – End it with a smile and a thank you. Appreciate your client’s (or colleague’s) willingness to take the time to offer a complaint. They probably pointed out something you didn’t know about. Or at least, they had the honor to come to you about it instead of gossiping or just walking away. They deserve some appreciation.

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