Thursday, January 17, 2008

Make it Right: Fix Customer Problems to Earn Trust and Repeat Business

After weeks of rain and travel up and down Mt. Hood for snowshoeing and sledding, my car was in desperate need of a bath. So when the sun came out Tuesday, I got in line along with many others at the car wash, looking forward to seeing my sparkling, cherry red paint again.

When I got home and out of the car, however, I noticed that there was still plenty of brake dust on my wheels and streaks of dried dirt on the rear window and around the license plate.

“Hey,” I grumbled, “I paid $10 for this wash, wax and rain protection. Where’s my shine?”

As soon as I caught myself complaining, I remembered the sign that’s underneath the green light at the car wash exit. It says: “If you’re not completely satisfied, we’ll happily rewash your vehicle for free.”

I drove back to make good on the offer.

As soon as I pulled in, the attendant smiled and asked, “Is this a rewash?”

When I nodded, he said, “That’s what I thought. We have lots of them today. With so many cars, it’s hard to meet everyone’s standards first time around.”

And, as promised, he happily sent me through the $10 cycle again.

To be honest, if my car wash didn’t have that sign for me to read every time I went through, I’m not sure I would have gone back to ask them to clean my car again. It’s more likely that I’d have gone to a different car wash next time.

But now the business has solidly earned my trust. I will go back without hesitation.

We all make mistakes. And sometimes our performance or products don’t meet customers’ expectations. While most companies and small business will try to right a wrong if asked, many don’t let customers know how important their satisfaction is.

Invite your customers to be happy; it makes them feel good. Communicate your guarantee to them; it earns their trust. And when they take you up on your offer, do like the car wash attendant and cheerfully deliver.

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