“Lights Out” Customer Service

The dance competition was going great!  Little girls (and a few boys) had traveled with their cheerleaders, coaches, and parents to hear the ultimately pronouncement, “And, the winner of first place in the lyrical 7-9 year olds category, a high gold goes to….”  The stage was littered with trophies.  The auditorium was packed with mothers who were vicariously on the stage.  The familiar Strauss waltz started to play and sixteen girls in creative costumes and first-time makeup leaped onto the stage

Without warning, the power went out!  The auditorium went dark, the music stopped, and the dancers froze in place.  But, the “heart in your throat” emotion lasted only for a second.  Like clockwork, the emergency lights came on, the generator started, and the dance competition resumed just as fast as it stopped.  Coaches and mothers breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Dancers on stage continued their arabesques with the utmost grace, charm and confidence. 

Customer service rarely goes perfectly, on schedule, or like the clockwork of a dance competition.  Sometimes, the lights go out on the delivery of service.  Do you have the service equivalent of emergency lights and a generator?  Customers do not expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to care when things go wrong.  Think through all that could go wrong and plan for every service breakdown contingency. 

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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