What To Do When A Customer Messes Up?

As a small business you are going to run into times when the customer isn’t right and they have messed up, how you deal with them can be as much marketing as any other ads or promotional work you do trying to get customers through the door.

There was a restaurant recently that was entertaining a large group of 30+ people, at one point in the evening one of the group broke a vase.

Trying to do the honest thing the man told one of the staff and said to let him know how much it cost and he would pay for it.

The night went on and when the shared bill came out there was a large ‘miscellaneous’ charge with no other information added to the bottom.

After some enquires it turned out this was for the broken vase.

The restaurant hadn’t communicated this in advance to the man and he hadn’t asked for it to be added to the communal bill.

After some challenging from the larger party about the extortionate cost being charged for what seemed a run of the mill vase the manager came out and after getting very irate the charge was removed from the communal bill.

Whilst the man took the manager aside at the end of the night and paid for the vase the whole interaction put the larger party off this restaurant that they had been a fan of for many years and hosted many special occasions there.

They in turn went out and told their family and friends and very quickly you had an even larger group hearing negative stories about how this business treats customers.

For the cost of a vase the business severely damaged their reputation to a large number of people in the local area. And all it comes down to is how the owner had equipped the staff to deal with accidents when the customers are at fault.

This non-event in the life of a business could have been turned into a rare opportunity to show how they valued customers rather than saw them as people who cause problems and are to have as much value as possible extracted from them.

Imagine how good it would have looked for the business to say, “don’t worry about it we can get another – maybe make a donation to the charity we support instead, we hope you’d had a good celebration with your family”

This would have been pretty easy, if the business had given some thought in advance of what to do when things go wrong.

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