Turning angry customers or clients into raving fans is an act of leadership often overlooked by more traditional views. In every customer experience that goes terribly wrong, there exists the possibility of responding to the event in such a way as to create a lasting and positive impact.
A restaurant runs out of a popular entrée, the office facility hosting an important meeting loses power, a repair mechanic mistakenly scratches a car, the overnight delivery service fails to provide the proposal on time. In every negative event exists a leadership opportunity to forge a positive path toward customer loyalty.
The best leaders know this and seize the day by going over the top to the benefit of the customer. For example, none of us would ever forget the day a chef appeared tableside to handcraft a sauce to replace the dressing we loudly disliked. The power of correcting errors in remarkable ways is unmatched for creating loyal customers and clients.
Mistakes from this vantage are an opening. Leaders use them to exceed expectations in bold fashion. When customers and clients are delighted by the response to an unfortunate event, they will not only remember the delight — they will tell everyone about it.
Going above and beyond when things go wrong is leadership genius. Don’t merely apologize or make up for mistakes and negative events. Use them as an opportunity to delight your customers so they will remember what you really stand for — them. As restaurateur Danny Meyer likes to say, “The road to success is paved with mistakes well-handled.”