How Not to Deal with a Customer Service Fail

Sometimes you are not in your best game. Things go wrong, and you know what just happened is in no way close to your best effort. You or your team fail your customer, client, or audience. So what should you do as a leader?

bad customoer service

Recently I ate at a restaurant where everything went wrong. Horribly wrong. From the moment my party arrived to the time we left, the entire experience was a disaster. Sometimes we have an off day. And rarely, an off day can turn into a truly awful day. It happens even to the best. But as I watched my dinner experience deteriorate with every course and exchange, I had hoped that management would at least try to “right” some of the “wrongs,” that in my opinion, were many. But that’s not what happened. After giving the manager a run down of the list of grievances, from poor service to the sword fish that had to sent back because it was drier than the Sahara desert, the best she managed to come up was, “Wow, usually people rave about their experience.  I’ve never heard this before.”  That was not the proper response.

So what should her response have been? Here’s how I would have approached it:

  • I’m so sorry you were disappointed with your experience. What could we have done differently?
  • How can I make this right for you?
  • Would you give us another chance to make a different impression?

Without having to agree with me that the service and food were substandard, the manager should have asked specific feedback and then tried to remedy the situation by offering to comp the overly dried entree that had to be prepared again, leaving the poor guy who ordered the bad dish having to eat his meal after everyone at the table had finished theirs.

We will make mistakes. Even the best of teams will botch something (just ask Apple about their new map app). But the way we handle a momentary failure will help us avoid creating a culture of excuses that will likely lead to permanent failure.

What’s the worst customer service experience you have had lately?


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