How to keep a customer after you mess up

I ordered an accessory a week or so ago from the company that built my recumbent bike, and I just got a phone call from one of its employees. Here's how the conversation unfolded, more or less:

Him: We got your order and we shipped it. Unfortunately, our shipping clerk forgot to update your address and we sent the package to your old address.

Me: Oh?

Him: Yeah, we got a call from someone named Bob who got the package. He says he'll hold it for you. Would it be too much trouble for you to pick it up from him.

Me: Uh, no, not really. Midland isn't that big.

Him: Thanks. We're really sorry. Next time you order something from us, remind us about this, and we'll do something like give you free shipping or something like that.

Me: Well, thanks, but that's not really necessary.

Obviously, in a perfect world the company would have noticed my new shipping address and updated their records before sending the order. But I appreciated getting the phone call (at least they had my new phone number) and the honest explanation of what happened. They also demonstrated some practicality in asking if I could pick up the package, rather than having the guy who got it send it back to them, so they could re-ship it, delaying the delivery even further.

And my guess is that if I do change my mind and ask them to accommodate a special request in the future, they'll have a note in my file referring to this incident.

Of course, it's a good thing I hadn't moved to another city. Anyway, I think the secret to good customer service isn't being perfect (although that's certainly a desirable goal), but in how you deal with the aftermath of imperfection.


Well, that is remarkable on everyones's part, except maybe the clerk that didn't remember to update your address. The person who got your part and called the company, the person who called you from the company and you, who so graciously accepted their explanation of what happened. The world would be better if more mistakes we handled this way.

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on September 1, 2010 3:20 PM.

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