February 23, 2012
I drove 45 minutes the other night (one way!) for a 30-minute swim lesson. This was my first swim lesson so I was a little apprehensive about it. (For the record, I can swim but my intent is to try to learn to swim more “efficiently” for triathlons). I even showed up 10 minutes early. Well, the lesson time came and went. Ten more minutes passed. I called my instructor and left a voicemail. Finally, after 20 more minutes had passed, I jumped into the pool on my own to at least get a workout in for the day. My new instructor, who I had yet to meet, never showed.
During my workout, I debated whether to find another option for a coach (it was hard enough to find this one!). After my workout, I found that I had a text message on my phone from the instructor. In the brevity of a text message, she apologized, empathized, and even threw in a free lesson. And then apologized again. It was sincere. Now I’ve got my lesson rescheduled for next week – same time, same place.
There will be times when the experience a customer or client with whom you work won’t go well. No person, business, service or product can be perfect 100% of the time. If there is one, I’d like to know who or what it is! The mark of a solid business or provider is how they respond to these less-than-ideal situations. Are they apologetic? Are they bending over backward with sincere regret? Or do they have some good excuses and reasons why it happened?
When you have a good “bad” experience with an organization, it usually isn’t by accident. Fixing mistakes, correcting errors, and replacing defective product can be delivered in a lot of different ways. Which way does your company deliver? Is it something your team is taught and trained on with consistency?
A book called “The Ultimate Question” addresses detractors – those people who spread negativity about your organization. It’s amazing the amount of work you have to do to replace the harm caused by one detractor. Instead, work on making the bad experiences good and limit your detractors. We all can’t be 100% right all of the time, but we can have a plan to make things right in those times when we aren’t.