Get It Fixed, Then Clam Up!

In the service industry, problems happen every day. An employee makes a mistake, and the customer is, at best, disappointed. Or angry, at worst. It’s inevitable. It happens. It’s part of any operation that has many “moving” parts. “Service recovery”, a company’s resolution of a problem from a dissatisfied customer, comes next. Your job is to get it fixed, then clam up. Here’s what I mean.

Regardless of the method used, once the problem is fixed to the customer’s satisfaction (and hopefully fixed way above just “satisfaction”) it’s time to move on and never mention the problem again. Example:

What Do You Say to An Upset Customer?

A restaurant’s customer finds a hair in their food, or a bug, or the steak is overcooked, and the customer is made to wait for a replacement while his dinner-mates eat. There are many ways to resolve the issue.

  • Give a sincere apology
  • Put the replacement steak to the head of the cooking line
  • “Comp” (don’t charge for) the steak
  • Offer the table a round of free drinks, or dessert
  • Apologize again
  • Etc.

Now, after the problem is resolved and a replacement steak delivered to the customer, I like to thank them all for “their understanding and allowing me to make it right”.

Never Mention the Problem Again

Then, it’s over. Never mention the problem again. Clam up! Don’t apologize anymore. Don’t pass by the table with a guilty look and worse yet, don’t hide from the customer because you’re embarrassed or fear their wrath. You made a mistake and you did all you can to fix it. It’s done. Move on.

When the customers leave, make sure you bid them a fond farewell and thank them for coming to your restaurant. Never, and I mean NEVER, mention the problem again. Don’t say, “Thank you, have a great night and again, I’m sorry for burning your steak”.

As they walk out the door, the last thing you want your customer to remember is your smile and ability to move on from a problem. You DON’T want their last memory to be the problem itself because you brought it up again.

Get it fixed, then clam up!

So, you’re not in the restaurant industry. That’s OK. Can you think of a way to apply this tactic to YOUR business? If so, I’d like to hear about it. Send me an email with your story.