Carpe defect

Defects are not only OK, they are opportunities to make a customer for life.

Your business should strive to deliver phenomenal service but phenomenal service doesn’t mean zero defects. A wealth of opportunity lies in how you handle the defects.

It may not seem like it, but your customers understand that your business is run by humans and that humans aren’t perfect.

Let’s say you own a new trendy restaurant. It’s the honeymoon stage. Things are good. It’s a busy Friday night. Your restaurant is slammed; there is an hour long wait. In the controlled chaos, three orders from a table of fifteen are made completely wrong.

Option A
The server, cowering in fear from the tyrannical owner, tells the kitchen to rush the fix but tries his best to hide the error from management. The diners whine and complain when the red-faced server finally brings the entrees.

Throughout the week, some of the fifteen diners continue to grumble about the delay and the others simply forget it. It’s a non-story.

Option B
The server, understanding the culture of service that the owner has instilled in everyone from the hostess to the bartenders to the busboys, immediately notifies the kitchen and then the owner. Even before the fixed entrees are rushed to the table, the owner comes by to personally and genuinely apologize for the mistake, delivering a self-deprecating remark about the growing pains of a hot new restaurant, comps the three entrees, gives the slighted diners certificates for a free entree on their next visit and buys the table two bottles of wine.

For a couple minutes of time and very minimal cost, the owner has flipped the story upside-down. Now, throughout the week, all fifteen diners get to spread the story of their favorite new restaurant, where the food was amazing, the service was excellent and how they know the owner. They tell everyone they know the story of how well the mistake was handled.

Perfection is a myth. Seize defects as opportunities.

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