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When good customer service goes bad

posted by Julie Mierau, September 3, 2008 

As business owners, we all want to be experts in offering outstanding customer service. Every business claims to offer great service to its customers – and every business strives to do so at all times and to all customers.

But sometimes even the companies with the best customer service can have that service go wrong. Some customers make demands we can’t meet. Some have preconceived notions that are unrealistic. Some are just plain crabby and seem to want to bring out the worst in our employees or ourselves.

Because business owners and our employees are also human, we, too, sometimes are crabby or have a bad day or just can’t seem to smile all the time. So then what?

Follow your own best instincts.

  1. Sometimes you need to apologize (sometimes profusely) to a customer who has had an unsatisfactory interaction with your company. “I’m so sorry that we couldn’t find the product you wanted. Please give us a chance to offer you a replacement or another service to take its place.”

  2. Sometimes you need to explain circumstances that would otherwise be none of the customer’s business. “I apologize for forgetting your appointment. We had a death in the family, and I lost track of my calendar. Can we reschedule for another time?”

  3. And sometimes you just need to let that customer go. (We can’t make everyone happy with every interaction, no matter how hard we try.) “We understand that you wanted a Swiss massage, and we’re sorry you weren’t happy with the massage we provided. Perhaps another massage therapist will better suit your needs. Let me refer to you to an expert in that area.”

The next time you have an unsatisfactory interaction with an employee or a company, try to assess how the situation could have been best handled. And then put those same guidelines into practice in your own business.

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