There is no better way to turn an existing client into a full-fledged ambassador for your company than when a service failure rears its ugly head.
When your client is inconvenienced in some form or fashion, it can be reframed as your time to shine; however, you have to identify and understand that an opportunity has presented itself to you, and you will have to over-deliver on the client’s expectations if you want to not only keep them as a customer but also turn them into an ambassador. This is where many operators go wrong, as they base their decision on how to rectify the situation solely on cost and how well they believe they responded.
Sure, in many cases, a fast response with a discounted trip satisfies the client; they go on their way, both parties are satisfied, and you have kept your customer.
If you want to turn your client into an ambassador rather than just an averted problem, you must dazzle them and completely over-deliver on their expected outcome. Recently, I saw an excellent thread in a Facebook group where a member posted about this exact topic, and the responses were fascinating. What I gleaned from the posts is that if you over-deliver, then you fall into the minority, which means you will have a competitive advantage over the staggering majority of other operators in your market.
Here is my recommendation on how to handle a negative situation. The issue could be as simple as the client not receiving an email confirmation or being on hold too long waiting for a CSR all the way to entirely missing a pickup resulting in them missing a flight.
Step 1: Assess the value, relationship, and influence of the client. Not all clients are the same, but if this is the first trip of a large RFP or hotel account you just won, then you may want to give serious consideration to these three compelling rationales before taking the next step.
Step 2: Determine the absolute maximum resolution that you will offer the client and write it down so you can easily remember before someone reaches out to the client.
Step 3: The owner must call the client—not a CSR or a GM. Who do you want to talk to when you have an issue at a local store or restaurant? The GM is good, but the owner is best.
Step 4: Before you pick up the phone, add some talking points to the resolution notes. The first thing you want to do when the client answers is to introduce yourself. Show them you are sympathetic to their situation to de-escalate the stress they may be feeling. And always make sure to under-promise and over-deliver.
Step 5: Execute your resolution immediately. The goal of the resolution should be to outkick your coverage, over-deliver on the client’s expectations, and blow them away with your response and execution with something that goes beyond what they were expecting.
You must identify and be empathetic to the value that your client lost. The resolution is likely to be completely different in a case where you forgot to send a final charges receipt versus if your chauffeur was at fault for a late pickup that caused a client to miss a sales meeting that cost their company a $500,000 contract. Remember, the goal here is to remedy the “feelings” of the client and your expectations as a consumer may not align with theirs, which is why I always recommend asking the client what you can do to remedy their loss.
"You must identify and be empathetic to the value that your client lost. The resolution is likely to be completely different in a case where you forgot to send a final charges receipt versus if your chauffeur was at fault for a late pickup...”Remember that it’s always easier to retain your customers than it is to establish a whole new client relationship. Aiming to wow them with your response and its execution should be the ultimate goal of how you resolve this potentially business-losing issue.
If you do this then you not only make the client happy, which should lead to them coming back and using your service again, but also, most crucially, have given them a positive story to share with their friends and colleagues, which is the best form of marketing.
If you look at these types of opportunities as marketing costs and understand that one way or another (positive or negative) the client is going to tell their story to other people, then hopefully, you will have a new perspective on why ambassadors are so valuable.
If you wow your client and they are on their way to a business dinner or meeting with 8-10 people (who may be potential clients), those people are all going to hear their story.
And then the question becomes: Which story will they hear about your company? [CD1219]
Bill Faeth is the founder of Limo University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.