The other night I went to my local drive through to grab a quick meal for the family – of course, it was a big order. After paying for the meal, I parted ways with the drive-thru window, only to get home and realize that I did not have the kids’ meals.

Of course, I was incredible angry. All of my horrible drive-thru experiences came rushing back. To this day I don’t think I have ever gone through a Taco Bell and had something missing, usually the sauce I requested, napkins, etc. All that is going through my mind as I make the 10 minute drive back to the restaurant.

I pulled up into the drive-thru window and the lady recognizes me and brings out two kids meals. She put fresh fries and new food into the meals and then gave me a coupon for a free combo meal. Needless to say, I was very happy at the resolution and impressed at how it was handled.

My opinion of the restaurant was actually improved by a problem. If there were no problem, there wouldn’t be anything special about the place. They did what they were supposed to do. But because they handled the problem with graciousness and going beyond what was expected, my opinion of that restaurant and that particular one was greatly improved.

This is a phenomenon that has actually been measured and proven. Customers who experience gracious and timely resolution to problems have a high favorable opinion of a company. Usually they are just as happy as customers that don’t have any problems, but some companies have found that the satisfaction can be higher than customers that don’t have any problems. The swift, over-the-top resolution made the customer a fan.

For example, National Car Rental found that there is an 85% chance that a satisfied customer will rent again. However, there is a 90% chance that a customer who experiences a problem and “great service recovery” will rent again.

How do you handle customer problems?
Does your customer love you more after the problem is solved?
Do you have a plan for an over-the-top resolution that will change a customer with problems to a customer with great story – about you?

Simply by formulating a plan and allowing the people in your organization the freedom to handle such problems can drastically change your customer’s perspective of your company. It can’t be from the “top-down”. It has to be an organizational belief that customers are valuable.