Accident Reactions Say a Lot About Customer Service Quality

Imagine you are the manager of a fast-food service restaurant.

A mother comes in for lunch with her young son. Half way through the meal the child knocks his drink on the floor creating a big mess!

What’s the first thing your well-trained crew members should do? Clean the floor? Replace the drink?

Not if you care about your customers and your reputation for customer service quality.

First, take care of the mother. For her there’s personal upset, social embarrassment, a disappointed child and good money spilled on the floor. With a genuine smile you say, “Don’t worry. This happens all the time.”

Let her know the spill will be cleaned up quickly and a replacement drink brought over right away. This will do wonders for perceptions of your customer service quality.

Second, put the child at ease. In his mind there may be loss or sadness about the drink, and concern (even fear) about his mother’s reaction. With a cheery face, you say brightly, “Well, accidents do happen!”

Tell him to watch carefully as your “service professionals” clean up the spill. “And by the way, a brand new drink for you is already on the way.”

Third, clean up the mess. Your service professionals should do the work with speed and obvious pride to demonstrate your commitment to customer service quality.

Fourth, replace the drink. But bring a new drink one size larger than the original order. Or, if the spilled drink was already a “large,” then bring along a side-order of french fries or a nice piece of pie.

Give them something extra, something unexpected, something that will be joyfully remembered long after the spill is forgotten to improve customer service quality.

“But wait,” you wonder. “Won’t everyone start spilling drinks if one person gets this extra generous service?”

In a single word, no.

If other customers have been watching from the beginning (and everyone does when a drink hits the floor), they’ll be as relieved as the mother and child.

The only thing to increase will be your reputation for superior customer service quality, not the number of spilled drinks!

Key Learning Points

When things go wrong, take good care of the people first, the technical issues after. Your procedures should turn your upset customers into enthusiastic advocates. When your customers win, you win.

Action Steps

Check your service recovery procedures. Make sure the first thing on the list is making a positive personal connection through competent customer service quality.