Go overboard to compensate your customers when you make a mistake. This is a business lesson that few entrepreneurs have learned and even fewer have put into practice.
It doesn’t mean simply replacing an item that was damaged or refunding a purchase that didn’t live up to expectations. It means going beyond all of that to compensate them past the point where it would be even remotely fair. Never mind whether it’s profitable to you and your business.
It might seem like bad business in the immediate sense, but doing this not only rectifies the problem situation, but also helps to create customers for life.
In 2006, NPR’s Scott Simon shared an anecdote about customer service that illustrates the importance of this practice. Joshua Steimle of Entrepreneur shares his takeaway from the story:
“His father, upon complaining to his favorite shaving cream company that they weren’t delivering the 90 shaves per can they promised, received a crate full of cans of shaving cream. ‘I think my father may have been buried with the last few cans,’ Simon says. If you unfairly compensate your customer to their benefit, your company’s actions may one day become the stuff of legend.”
In this situation, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that the shaving cream company simply offered an apology and maybe a small discount for future purchases. But when customers feel that a company has wronged them, this type of small gesture often isn’t enough.
Instead, this company went beyond what was expected of them to apologize to their customer. Keep that customer happy, and most importantly keep them purchasing new items.
Aside from this lesson, Steimle also shared a few more tips for correcting business mistakes. They include: Taking full responsibility for the failure, explaining to customers why the failure will never happen again, and then making sure to actually never do it again.
Shaving Cream Photo via Shutterstock