JCK5: Handling Customer Service Disasters

Carnival Cruise Line’s recent customer service debacle got us thinking about best practices to call upon when mistakes are made—and customers are rip-roaring angry. We asked Brad Smith, executive vice president of customer experience for business consulting firm, Sage North America, to dish on the best ways to handle customer service crises:

  1. Apologize. Think about this in your personal life. Doesn’t a sincere apology go a long way?
  2. Sometimes a company does something wrong, then skirts around the issue. Your customer wants details on what actions you’re going to take to resolve the situation. Everyone makes mistakes. It’s all in how you correct it.
  3. Exceed expectations through full transparency. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would you want done to rectify the situation? Whatever the answer is, do that action, plus one thing. One of the very best things you can do to extend your relationship with that customer is to fully disclose the root causes of the issues and the steps you are taking to arrest and address it. Customers want the companies they do business with to make things right. Even when it seems nothing will help, the effort will be appreciated.
  4. Keep promises and be honest. Whatever you’ve promised your customer, deliver it—and deliver it well. It’s as simple as that. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the opposite. Don’t promise more than you can provide, and never lie through omission. It will be found out in the end.
  5. Don’t let the mistake endanger your relationship with other customers. When your reputation is on the line, ensure your current customers are the no. 1 priority.

JCK Magazine Editor