BrainTrust Query: When You Make a Mistake
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from Getting Personal About Business,
the blog of Zahn Consulting, LLC.
In spite of the best efforts, the best a business can hope for is to minimize
or reduce the number of times mistakes occur. In many instances, it is not
the mistake that will cause the small business person the greatest concern,
is the response.
Recently, while dining in a casual family-style Mexican restaurant, I had
the unfortunate incident of being seated near the kitchen and right in the
path of harried servers shuttling back and forth. As luck would have it, one
server turned a corner a bit too quickly and dropped a dish of salsa right
down my back. While no one seeks to have salsa sliding down their spine as
they dine, I was not dressed for a business meeting, did not have another appointment
to go to after dinner, and if there was a “good time” for that to
occur, this was it. I was not overly bothered or troubled by it and continued
talking with the people at my table as a waitress offered a cursory apology
and dabbed at my shirt to dry and absorb as much of the spillage as possible.
My tablemates and I then engaged in a discussion of what would be an appropriate
next step for the restaurant to make. The suggestions were:
- Apology is enough. It was an accident, the server was probably mortified
and there was no damage done.
- A discount on the bill.
- A free dessert, drink or appetizer.
- An offer to dry clean the garment, or if that did not satisfactorily remove
the stain, pay for a replacement shirt.
The restaurant did only the first and as I was not unduly impacted, I did
not make any demands, raise a complaint, or really even acknowledge in any
way that I had been inconvenienced. I continued to enjoy the meal and chalked
it up to just a funny incident that happened during my dinner.
That the restaurant did not inquire if I was satisfied with their response,
though, is of concern. A manager could have come over and “checked in
with me” (even if no other offer was to be made). Establishing (re-establishing)
the satisfaction of a customer, and especially one who had just had an incident
not of their own making that could likely turn the person against the business
seems like the absolute minimum a business should provide.
It is not a surprise in a busy restaurant that a spill will happen. It is
a larger mistake not to accept responsibility and attempt to correct it as
best as one can when owning or managing a business.
Discussion Questions: Do retailers satisfactorily prepare staff to handle mistakes? What procedures do you recommend?