How To Win Loyal Customers By Giving Bad Service

Why do so few companies recognize that when something goes wrong in the interaction with a customer (with the food at a restaurant, when ordering something online, and so on), they have a great opportunity to win a loyal customer. The opportunity is greater than if nothing had gone wrong in the first place.

Like a couple of weeks ago when dining out with friends. My half of the party were served nearly an hour after the other half. When we got the food and I had eaten half of it, I ordered another beer, then reminded the waiter, but still didn’t get another beer. Nobody said “We’re sorry!” We were offered free coffee and dessert, but by that time we wanted to head home to get our tired kids into bed. This was at one of my favorite restaurants. We’ve dined there dozens of times, but never since.

Or a couple of months ago. We tried a home delivery service that brings food from great restaurants to your door. Both times we tried them the online payment seemingly bounced, so I had to call in to place my order; then I was charged twice and had to contact them again to get my money back. Once we got a non-vegetarian lasagna, instead of the veggie one. It took over an hour to get a vegetarian one, so by that time I had to re-heat my dish in the microwave. Hadn’t they failed to compensate us in some way (by saying thanks and perhaps to make the next time free), we would surely have made ordering from them a habit.

You get the idea.

When something goes wrong, make a little effort to make things right, and people will come back, and probably tell others about your great service.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on July 17, 2006. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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