Complaints and Problems Are Opportunities To Show How Good You Are

I love hearing about complaints and problems that are solved to the point that the customer wants to tell the world about the experience. That’s exactly what happened to Bill Paretti, one of our faithful Shepard Letter subscribers. He was so excited about what happened that he shared it with me, hoping I would share it with you. Here’s the short version of the story, followed by my commentary and the lesson we can take away from his experience. 

Bill and his wife went to Cancun on vacation and stayed at the LeBlanc Spa Resort. This an “all-inclusive” resort where everything is included in the daily rate.  

Every Wednesday, the resort has a “Seafood Market” lunch where they grill fresh seafood for the guests. Bill and his wife were at the end of the line, and by the time they made it to the front, they were disappointed that most of the fish was gone.  

The server sensed their disappointment, and this is where the story gets good. First, the server apologized. He empathized and sympathized with Bill and his wife’s disappointment, and he immediately offered a solution. First, he gave them menus to order lunch. Then, he offered to set up a private Seafood Market experience the next day, just for Bill and his wife. 

The next day, they had an amazing lunch. In Bill’s words, “He personally brought a magnificent wooden tray of fresh grilled fish, shrimp, clams, mussels and vegetables that would have easily fed eight people!”  

The big lesson here is that the server, without knowing, followed my five-step process for resolving problems and complaints. I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth using this story to remind us of how simple and effective it is.  

Five Steps to Handling Complaints and Problems

  1. Apologize: That’s the first thing the server did. 
  2. Acknowledge: The server acknowledged their disappointment. That shows you’re in sync with the customer.  
  3. Fix the Problem: The server offered a great solution. The first part of that solution was to order lunch off the menu. The follow-up was to personally deliver a “Seafood Market” experience the next day.  
  4. An Attitude of Ownership: The server didn’t blame the chef for not cooking enough food. Instead, he “owned” the opportunity to resolve the issue.  
  5. Act with Urgency: It’s not about when the problem was ultimately resolved, it’s how fast you respond to fix the problem. One way to impress a customer when there is a problem or complaint is to act with speed and urgency. 

This five-step process works for small and big problems. Think about a time when you complained or had a problem and it was resolved to your satisfaction, if not even more so. If you break it down, you’ll likely find the experience includes these five steps. 

Related: Eliminate the Trust Gap: Six Ways To Create Trust With Your Customers and Employees