Surprise & Delight Customers

How To Turn Mistakes Into Positive Customer Experiences

No company is perfect. Inevitably, employees will make mistakes. The impact of those mistakes on brand image is not necessarily related to WHAT happens as much as HOW employees handle a problem. Recently, I encountered a situation that reinforces the importance of customer experience (CX) and employee engagement. While the issue occurred at a restaurant, the lessons are applicable to all companies, regardless of size and industry.

To make a long CX story short…

I was eating dinner at a local restaurant, Bonds Tavern, which is known for its great burgers and milkshakes. While I was enjoying my meal, the waiter accidentally spilled food that landed on my lap and stained my jacket.

Outwardly, I did not make a big deal about this. Although, I was frustrated in the moment. The waiter clearly felt bad. Immediately, he gave me his manager’s email address to send my cleaning bill for reimbursement; I appreciated the offer and followed through. 

The Value of Going the Extra Mile

Driving Customer LoyaltyWithin a few days, I received a check in the mail to cover my dry cleaning expense. While I anticipated reimbursement, I did not know the restaurant would also send me a gift card and coupons to save money on future visits.

In this case, both the waiter and manager turned a disappointing situation into a highly satisfying experience. What a perfect example of DoingCXRight!

Customer Experience Lessons From My Restaurant Story: 

1. Follow through on promises.

If you tell customers you are going to do something for them, take action and do so without delay.

2. Delight customers by giving unexpected surprises. 

Even the smallest gestures can turn a detractor (unhappy customer) into a promoter (delighted customer) who is more forgiving when mistakes occur. Read more about CX measurements and NPS.

3. Make no excuses when mistakes happen.

Own the problem and address it directly.

4. Empower front line employees.

Give employees the tools they need to rectify situations without always having to go to management for approval. Read more about the importance of company culture.

5. Go out of your way to make customers feel like they matter. 

Authenticity and empathy go a long way. 

The Bottom Line

When companies apply CX best practices, there is a higher probability that customers will return even when mistakes occur.  Given the way situation was handled, I continue to eat at Bonds Tavern. As a result of my referrals to new customers, I am confident that the restaurant ended up bringing in more money than it spent to fix my bad experience 

Do you have any “OOPS” stories similar to my restaurant experience? How did the company handle the mistake, and did it impact your decision to purchase again and refer? Join the conversations on Twitter & Instagram.  Get more actionable #CX lessons from another restaurant story


DoingCXRight by Stacy Sherman












*All opinions expressed on the DoingCXRight Blog and site pages are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of or imply the endorsement of employers or other organizations.

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