How to Handle a Customer Service Problem


We all love hearing that word. 

Your customers love hearing it, too – especially when you’re handling a customer service problem. 

The bottom line is, if you want your business to thrive, you have to be savvy about the way you interact with your clients when issues come up.

Here’s an example of customer service done right, as well as a strategy you can follow to make sure you’re earning your clients’ trust and loyalty.

The power of great customer service

A good friend was at the Greenbrier Resort for a special trip for his wedding anniversary. When he made his reservation, he mentioned it was his anniversary and that he would like a room with a beautiful mountain view.

When they arrived at the room, he was underwhelmed with the view and mentioned it to the bellhop. She suggested he go down to talk to the concierge desk.

He went down to the concierge and he told them he had a problem. 

The concierge smiled and said, “No matter what your question is, the answer is YES!” That caught him off guard. He was not prepared for that one! 

“Can you repeat that please?” Again, the concierge smiled and said, “No matter what your question is, the answer is YES!”

He briefly explained the situation and the answer WAS yes! They were moved to a room with an amazing view. 

At dinner that night the manager brought them a bottle of champagne and wished them a happy anniversary. Wow! That was an amazing customer experience for them AND he said he has retold the story dozens of times over the past couple years.

I don’t know if that bellhop called the concierge desk to alert them, but I doubt it. That must be SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for that concierge – and likely everyone on their staff when dealing with a customer service problem. 

The best customer service strategy

I believe one of the best customer service strategies is this:

Seek opportunities to go the EXTRA MILE and create a memory!

The staff at the Greenbrier executed this strategy perfectly and it paid off. 

What do you do when there is an “issue” with a customer? 

Instead of looking at it as a problem, look at it as an opportunity to blow them away.

Imagine if my friend had been unable to move rooms. The only thing he would have remembered about the trip was that he didn’t get the room he requested.

Instead, the answer was YES and they left singing the praises of the resort for years and have returned.

I’ve done something like that. Have you? 

Maybe you can’t say yes to everything in your business model. But you could say, “I’m sorry we dropped the ball on that one. What can we do to solve this and keep you as a Raving Fan?”

Customer service = customer loyalty

I have a book on the shelf called Turned On, by Roger Dow and Susan Cook. They describe research the Marriott did to identify which guests intended to stay there again. 

They divided guest stays into 3 groups A, B, and C.

  • A = Nothing bad happened during their stay.
  • B = Something bad happened, but Marriott fixed the problem.
  • C = Something bad happened, and Marriott did not fix the problem.

The percentage of these three groups that intended to return to the Marriott was as follows:

  • A =89%
  • B =94%
  • C =69%

The research shows that guests were even more loyal when something bad happened if Marriott fixed the problem.

How to handle customer service challenges

The way you handle customer service issues has a great impact on your success.

Seek opportunities to go the extra-mile when problems come up. Be willing to spend a few dollars to create a lasting memory for your customers – they won’t forget it. 

Analyze your SOP when “problems” arise and make the necessary adjustments to earn your customers’ trust and loyalty.

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