Be Sure to Make it Right?

John’s mother passed away several years ago.  One thing he remembers vividly about his mom in her later years was how much she enjoyed receiving flowers on special occasions.  When she was about to celebrate her 90th birthday he sent her a special arrangement of flowers the week before her birthday!  Obviously a very special time and a time for great celebration!  John had enjoyed great service and great flowers from Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens in his mom’s hometown for many years so he ordered a “deluxe arrangement” with a “Happy Birthday” balloon via the internet.

His mom typically calls John when she receives flowers so he was not surprised when his cell phone rang early the day after the flowers were delivered.  She thanked John for the lovely flowers and then told him they were beginning to “droop” after 24 hours.  She was surprised given who delivered the flowers and John assured her he would call the florist as soon as he finished his client meetings.

John called Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens the next morning to express his disappointment.  The person answering the phone listened to part of the story and asked if he would hold on for Nancy.  John agreed and Nancy picked up very quickly.  He could immediately tell he had gone from talking with one of the employees to speaking with someone who really cared!  Nancy listened carefully to part of his story, politely interrupted him and stated; “I am so sorry this happened. We have to get mom some more flowers today!  Will she be home this afternoon?”  As you might expect John’s 90 year old mom was not too busy that afternoon and would be home.  Nancy made sure she had all the delivery details correct and then immediately thanked him extensively for calling and giving them the “opportunity to make it right”.

Nancy practiced what we call great service recovery by apologizing and quickly providing a solution to John’s situation.  Her tone was one of calm caring and great competence.  Capitol’s Rosemont Gardens has a great service recovery policy.  We know from extensive research that customers whose problems are resolved quickly and effectively are even more loyal to that provider than they were prior to an incident.  What happens when your customers call with a problem?  Are your employees trained to respond like Nancy?  Are they thanking your customer for giving them “the opportunity to make it right?”  At a time when research shows 73% of organizations make no attempt to retain exiting customers and 35% of exiting customers state a simple apology would keep them, great service recovery can be a powerful competitive advantage!

© Chip Bell Group, 2023.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.