The Worst Customer Service Mistake I Ever Made

July 28, 2019

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customer service, upset client, five star service, customer service recovery

Early on in my career, I made the mistake of asking an upset client, “What would you like for me to do?” when trying to resolve a complaint.  That literally sent the client over the edge.  

Her reply was, “I want you to give me a solution!!  That’s why I’m calling you! Don’t ask me to come up with a solution too!”   I’ll never forget that customer service lesson.  It’s been 15 years since that happened and it still resonates with me.  

Why?  Because she was right.

I learned very quickly that the best way to resolve a customer complaint is to 1) Thank the client for giving you the opportunity to make things right and 2) Always give the client two options.  Then, all they need to do is pick one.

You have to lead the customer into “next steps”. Remember, they are already upset, fragile and want to be heard. Make things easy. Create an experience that they can relate to. You have to show them that you’re listening, you care, and you are there to make things better. This is an opportunity for you to turn an upset client into a raving fan!

In the above example, what I should have done is offered the guest two options. It should have gone something like this, “Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear that we didn’t meet your expectations when visiting the salon recently. I can tell that you are upset and I want to make things right. Here’s what I can do. 1) Have you come back into the salon and have one of our color educators meet with you and adjust your hair color, free of charge or 2) I can arrange to give you a full refund for your services.

Either way, when you make it easy for the client by providing them options, all they have to do is pick one and then you can go on with your day.  Everyone’s usually happy in the end.  

This technique also comes in handy when you have to say “No” to a client.  If you say something like, “I apologize, we no longer offer that service, but here’s what I can do. I can perform the service that we now offer in its place or provide you with a list of places that do offer that service.”  

In the end, what matters most is that you take care of your client, even if it sometimes means losing money (which rarely happens) or sending them to the competition. It will always come back to serve you in the future.

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Located in Austin, Texas.

Chris Murphy