At the Catersource conference in March, I had the opportunity to give two presentations. One of which was titled; Lemons to Lemonade - how to turn disappointed customers into lifelong clients. It was a humbling experience to prepare a presentation for over 200 other caterers that detailed many of our "not-so-finest" moments at Footers.
Ninety-nine percent of the time we deliver on our mission of creating exceptional experiences for our clients and their guests, yet we’ve made our fair share of mistakes along the way. It’s stressful and frustrating when mistakes do occur, but I believe that opportunity lies in how we respond when a customer is not happy. It’s been proven that someone who does business with a company and has a problem that is resolved quickly is more likely to become a repeat customer than a customer that got exactly what they were expecting.
Problem | Solution
Fortunately we’ve been able to win over many of our customers who had issues with our services and I attribute that to creating a service mindset and doing whatever it takes to make the customer happy. Most recently we made a silly mistake and didn’t send the appropriate quantities of the five flavors of popcorn a client ordered for their happy hour event for over 500 guests. We were able to quickly resolve the issue and get more popcorn to the event, and we also removed a portion of the menu price from their final bill for the inconvenience. What really stood out to me though was an email sent from the client to our coordinator highlighting how we handled the event as a reason for wanting to come and work for us. I’ve included an excerpt from her email below:
I was truly impressed with the way that last week’s popcorn shortage was handled. Every business can look good when things are going well, but faced with a “crisis” not every business is able to maintain their professed standard of excellence. I have always been impressed with Footers and even more so now that there was a hiccup of sorts. The way the issue was dealt with was beyond impressive and I could not be more grateful to you, Brian and Lee for working so hard to resolve the popcorn shortage. Thank you so much for being able to think through the situation and provide a solution with as little back and forth as possible. The situation would have been far more uncomfortable had Footers been hard to get in touch with or unconcerned with the shortage in supplies.
This event impressed me so much that I wanted to pass along my resume should any opportunities at Footers arise. I think a career with Footers would put to use a number of my strengths, most importantly my passion for establishing relationships with clientele as well as my heart for customer service-focused work. I do not know the current hiring needs of Footers, but even just a cup of coffee to discuss your experience with Footers would be a great opportunity.
The bright ending
Although I was frustrated with the mistake that had been made, I was truly proud of the way our team handled the issue. What a tremendous compliment that someone would want to work for our company in part because of how we handled a mistake. (Full disclosure: I didn’t find out about this until the next day.) By listening to the client, understanding their frustrations, coming up with a solution, and acting quickly, our team took what could have been a relationship-ending mistake and turned it into a positive. Pain can be a great opportunity for growth and in this case it led to a new potential team member for our company.