Un-break My Heart

It was a really important occasion.  My wife had gotten the letter she had passed the Texas bar exam and we planned a special dining experience at the super nice, book-a-month-in-advance restaurant and a table with a super spectacular view. She spent two hours getting dressed!  Arriving at the restaurant right on time, the maître de informed us he could not find our reservation!  I had made the reservation; my wife had double-checked it.

Now, I need to tell you that some people might have broken down into tears.  My wife instead goes into her “take no prisoners” stance.  As we later learned, a new reservations clerk had gotten a call from someone with our same last name requesting a reservation two hours later.  Assuming it was us changing our reservation to a later time, the novice literally gave our dinner reservation away!

But, the maître de did a masterful job managing the recovery (the subject of another blog) that started with the sincere and authentic words: “I am so very sorry.  We broke your heart, didn’t we?”  It completely doused out the fuse on our fury.  She looked beyond our rage and saw our pain!

Great service recovery is not just about fixing a customer’s problem.  When the customer feels victimized by your service hiccup, restoring the relationship goes much deeper.  Pop singer Toni Braxton nailed the objective of recovery with the title of her song:  “Un-break My Heart!”  What steps can you take to “un-break your customer’s heart” when service failure leaves that customer betrayed?

Customer engagement through the eyes of Shawn Graham is worth a read.

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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