BY BILL FAETHIt is an unfortunate fact that mistakes happen all the time. But if you handle the situation properly, those inevitable errors don’t have to cost you business.
Let me share a real-life example: I recently received a call from a Limo University member (we’ll call him “Mark” to protect his identity) who had a customer service issue that he needed assistance with, in terms of identifying ways to minimize the damage and best restore the relationship.
Mark’s client is a coordinator for a large DMC in his area, and this was the first time the she was using Mark’s company for transportation. Mark had met with the firm the previous month while attending an event for a meeting professionals’ association, which happened to be Mark’s first as a new member of the organization.
Assessing the Situation
This new client had a booked a four-hour motorcoach charter for her group. Mark’s company does not own motorcoaches, so he did what many operators would do in this situation and farmed out the trip to an affiliate.
Mark called the affiliate 15 minutes prior to the pre-arranged pickup time and received confirmation that the bus was in the correct location; however, when Mark’s phone rang 15 minutes later, it was the DMC asking why the bus was not on location as it was supposed to be. While on the phone with Mark, the DMC watched the bus drive by in the wrong direction.
This was certainly not how Mark envisioned the new relationship starting out.
"The key element to the resolution is ... taking personal responsibility as the owner of the company and making no excuses ..."
Finding a Resolution
The affiliate, with whom he already had a solid relationship, stated the bus was on location, while the new client provided a very different story that the bus was not staged where it was supposed to be at the correct time. Mark was unsure how to handle this he-said-she-said situation.
Further complicating matters was the fact that this DMC happens to be fairly recognized and reputable within not only the community but also the organization Mark had recently joined. As an involved and influential member, his client’s experience and recommendations of his business (positive or negative) can carry a lot of weight within that trade group.
All of these factors must be taken into consideration in order for Mark to make the right decision on how to resolve the issue for his client. Mark must consider the long-term value of the relationship as well as the impact of the DMC’s relationship with the client she is serving. Only then, could Mark determine the value from his client’s perspective to provide a resolution that will make her happy.
I presented all of the above factors to Mark during our conversation and we weighed the short-term loss against the long-term gain to arrive at a conclusion.
Because this first-time client presents significant long-term value to Mark’s company, he recognized that he needs her to be a happy ambassador for other meeting professionals looking to use his company. We decided that Mark would drive to her office, which was about 15 minutes away, and personally apologize for the error. He would not create any excuses or place any blame on the affiliate. He also would provide a 100-percent complimentary trip.
The key element to the resolution is that Mark is taking personal responsibility as the owner of the company and making no excuses, while providing his new client with a resolution that will hopefully make her happy. Mark will also explain that this type of service issue is a rarity and express that he knows this will impact the DMC’s relationship with her own client.
The kicker is that Mark is delivering this message before the trip is even completed—and in person, which most companies would not do to try to remedy a client’s issue and prove that they are completely invested in saving the young relationship. While I do not yet know the outcome for Mark, I can assure you he is going above and beyond to salvage a new partnership and restore the long-term value of his new client, both directly and indirectly.
As for dealing with the affiliate—well, we’ll tackle that topic another time. [CD0517]
Bill Faeth is founder and president of Inbound Marketing Agents in Nashville and founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.