Customer Service: It’s What You Do After The Mistake That Matters


Companies spend a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money on customer service to set themselves apart from the competition. Most of the effort is spent on what to do before we make a mistake. But, it’s what you do after the mistake that matters.

Training after training and business book after business book on how to answer the phone, greet the customer, layout of the store, voicemail and follow up.

Frankly, most of it is a complete waste.


First of all, these items should be a normal part of your business, part of the everyday operations and as such this is NOT where your customer service problems show up.  Of all the complaints you receive from customers,  how often you get one about an employee not smiling, or the way the phone was answered? If you are hearing that type of complaint, you have a lot of work to do and need to get back to basics.

Every business makes a mistake! We don’t return a phone call, we miss a delivery, or the wrong item is received. The list is long and distinguished.  That, is when the trouble begins and it is what we do that will separate us as able to deliver good customer service or bad customer service.

Let’s take a common issue many of us have had to deal with. We arrive at our hotel after a long travel day.  As we approach the front door a snappy, dressed doorman smiles and welcomes us as he opens the door. We stroll over to the front desk as people scurry around, carrying our bags and parking our car. The front desk associates, who are dressed to the 9’s, smile and welcome us with a cookie.   We give them our name and they begin to look for our reservation. Sounds good so far, right? Give this hotel an A+ for customer service and all is good!

Until……they can’t find the reservation.   We give them the confirmation number and they still can’t find it. No problem we say, here is my frequent sleeper card, just check me in!   Standing there with a smile, they tell us they are sold out and have no rooms available.

This is where you need to spend your time on customer service training.

What do we do with our customer service next? I will cover that in next week’s article. To make it more interesting, send me an email and tell me what you would do.  Authors will be kept anonymous.