Something has just gone wrong…

And a customer is not happy because of it.
It’s a mix-up, a malfunction, or a blunder,
and it doesn’t matter whose fault it is…
your reputation is on the line to make it right.

What do you say? How do you say it?
What do you do?
How do you make sparkling lemon water from the lemons
you’ve just been handed?
How do you provide what’s known as,
“Immediate Service Recovery?”

I know how Disney does it.
I know how Ritz Carlton does it.
I know how the best of the best in this marketplace do it.
How do YOU do it?
Because most individuals and organizations…DON’T!
The common response to something gone wrong…?
“I’m sorry” or even worse, “So what?”
Sometimes things get in a knot. Can’t be avoided.

Knowing how you’ll recover in those instances must be rehearsed and
ready to be played like a trump card in a winning hand.

What usually happens?
“Sorry man, that’s how it goes sometimes.”
“Could’ve been worse though, right?”
When you’re the customer, what do you want?
An apology?
A babbling, rambling, bumbling dissertation on how we got here?
How about “Get me outta’ here!”
And saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t make it happen.
Sorry about that, sorry we let you down,
sorry, sorry, sorry…yep, that’s us, we’re sorry!

Excuses, Indifference, and Apologies.
What’s wrong with this picture?

It’s OK to give an apology when you’ve wronged a friend,
but that’s not what a customer wants when something goes wrong,
unless you want to be with all the common and ordinary companies
that play it by ear and hope for the best in “service blunder” situations.

In Asheville, North Carolina when you open the menu at McGuffey’s restaurant, you’ll see their service mentality printed right on the front cover… “The answer is YES, what’s the question!”

It’s an attitude, a way of doing business. Promoting an expectation to the customer in an uncommon fashion. A statement of commitment to amazing service, even when things go wrong.

And if things didn’t go wrong, but you still want to improve your service to the customer, how about this question on their way out the door…
“Was there any one thing we could have done tonight, to make your
(dining, shopping, buying, etc.) experience more MEMORABLE?”

When was the last time anyone asked you that question?
Give it a try and you’ll stand out in improving and impressing the customer.

The Ritz Carlton Way

Even the housekeepers at Ritz Carlton are allowed a $2000 budget to make an “amazing” service recovery so the guest leaves feeling “wow’ed” every time. It’s not just a blank check to give away the farm, it’s a responsibility they’ve been taught as a process of “How to Wow!” And it works.

A recent survey revealed that Ritz has an 8% “defect” rating.
That means for 8 out of 100 guests, something goes wrong.
A meal, a bill, a room, whatever.
But the chances are excellent that those 8 will tell more people about their stay at the “amazing” Ritz than the other 92, because of how the hotel and its team RECOVERED from the service glitch!

The Disney Way

There are hundreds of roles at the Walt Disney World Resort,
but there is only ONE purpose for all of them and that is…
to make sure that every Guest who comes to their “show”
has the most fabulous time of his or her life.

And when something goes wrong…they don’t just say “I’m sorry,”
they strive to DO SOMETHING AMAZING for the guest (customer)!
The cast members at Disney are like a well-schooled, service recovery S.W.A.T. team just waiting for the next opportunity to strike.

How do you provide AMAZING service recovery?
And waiting until the customer crisis arrives is too late to be ready for it.

For starters:

  1. LISTEN…let them talk and really listen
  2. Acknowledge without Apology (“I can assure you that’s not how we..”)
  3. Don’t find fault, find a solution
  4. Communicate the process (“Here’s what I’m going to do…”)
  5. Make an AMAZING service recovery proposal (“What about this?”)
  6. Promote the recovery to the troops (“Here’s how we did it.”)

And the last step has to be the first one…make sure the team knows how we’ll leap into action when something goes wrong. When the opportunity “blunder” happens, it’s too late for preparation. How will you respond?

If you’re serious about amazing service recovery, get a book called “Knock Your Socks Off Service Recovery,” by Chip Bell & Ron Zemke.
Or if you’d like a list of 10 things you can say during a service recovery encounter, send an email to

Do something remarkable for the customer.
Lemons can really be quite tasty, in the right recipe.