Fred Reichheld, author of The Ultimate Question, posts about two recent examples of customer feedback. The first is the “worst practice” in which a hotel general manager offered only explanations.
Note: it may be an explanation to you, we customers perceive it to be an excuse.
When you, the owner/manager, attempts to justify customer service that failed to meet my expectations as customer, you’re not only going to lose my business, but you risk creating negative word of mouth advertising.
On the other hand, when you apologize and offer to fix the situation, you might just be strengthening customer loyalty thereby ensuring my future business and creating positive word of mouth. See Fred’s second example.
I once heard a cardiologist questioning his nursing staff about the way they handled a patient’s treatment. He prefaced his remarks with, “I don’t want explanations, I just want answers.”
We customers feel the same way. I don’t want to hear about your expensive telephone system or the fact that you’re going to have to take a $160 markdown on the defective merchandise you sold me (especially when I’ve previously spent more than $5000 in your store). I want an apology and an offer to make it right.
Last summer we stayed at a motel my family regularly frequents every year on our trip to see my parents in Georgia. There were several problems with the room. When I wrote to their corporate office to complain, I received a prompt apology and a refund from the motel’s general manager. He asked for us to give him another chance. His actions stopped any negative word of mouth I might have uttered in its tracks. Frankly, I was impressed by his promptness and the actions he took.
Had I heard nothing, or gotten excuses, I would have never stayed there again and I would have gone out of my way to warn people from staying there if they asked me for a referral.
Read Fred’s post. Be like the Chick Fil-A manager, not the hotel manager. No matter which example you follow, your future sales will be impacted. It’s up to you whether that impact is positive or negative.