It doesn’t matter who’s to blame, but every once in a while, even the best customer support teams will make a blunder. With amazing customer service, however, it’s not how bad or big the mistake was that will stick with a customer. It’s how you and your team recover from it that can retain customers, boost loyalty and inflate your company’s status to legendary.

Today’s true story is a prime example of how a major hotel chain turned a colossal mistake into a major opportunity that created loyal customers for life.

“The Best Service Recovery Story you Will Ever Hear”

At least that’s what Jon Picoult calls the story that could have been his wife’s worst nightmare. While staying at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Picoult’s wife sent an evening gown off to be pressed before a black tie affair. The dress was returned so shrunken that it would no longer fit and Mrs. Picoult was distraught.

When Jon called up the front desk, the hotel manager instantly rose to the occasion and without hesitation responded by saying, “I am going to take care of this for you.” There was no denying of responsibility, no delay in snapping to action and the hotel manager took accountability for the situation. This shows great professionalism and an astounding focus on the customer.

We’ve all been on the other end of a phone call or email with a customer support representative who responds with reluctance, offers an “I’m not sure if we can do that,” or puts you on hold to speak to a manager. But the Ritz-Carlton hotel manager’s instant positive response was exactly what Jon Picoult – not to mention any customer in that situation – wanted to hear.

Stand and Deliver

Not only did the hotel manager take accountability and make a promise to correct the situation, but he delivered. To make up for the ruined dress, the Ritz-Carlton whisked Jon’s wife off in a limousine and arranged for a personal shopper to help her pick out a new gown, complete with accessories and tailoring. What’s more, the hotel paid for the entire day of lavish treatment.

Rather than just offering some sort of monetary credit or a free hotel stay as many customer support managers might do, the hotel manager realized that without her dress, Jon’s wife would not be able to attend the black tie affair. A credit would not have been an even trade for destroying an outfit about which Jon’s wife had formerly been so proud.

Oops, they did it Again

On the day of the formal event, Jon’s wife discovered the security ink cartridge was still attached to her brand new evening gown. Within 20 minutes of his phone call back to the front desk, the hotel manager was standing at the Picoults’ door with an employee from the store where the dress had been procured, and an ink cartridge removal device. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am – no harm done, and the Picoults made it to the black tie event in time for the hotel manager and his staff to offer Mrs. Picoult a standing ovation in admiration of how beautiful she looked upon her entrance.

In other words, this customer service team over-corrected their recovery to, in Jon’s own words, “eclipse the negativity of the failure itself.” This could not be better advice!

Total Eclipse of the Heart

When it comes to customer service recovery, there is no such thing as overkill. It’s easy to fix a problem and take ownership. But the Ritz-Carlton seized an opportunity to go above and beyond, realizing that if they could make Mrs. Picoult feel special, they’d erase their gaff from her memory. And not only did it work, retaining the Picoults as customers, but the hotel ensured that by spending a little bit of money on one customer, their return on investment would be prosperous.

Okay, so the Ritz-Carlton budget may far exceed your own company’s, but there’s many ways to make a customer feel special. If a shipment didn’t arrive in time for a special occasion, consider sending a small token in honor of the birthday or anniversary that was missed in addition to the discount or credit you’d already offer. Check in with customers via phone or email after providing service recovery. And teach your CSRs the art of providing support without hesitation. After all, you want your company’s story shared like Jon Picoult’s, rather than having customers spread the word that “sure, I eventually got what I wanted/needed, but it took several phone calls over the course of two weeks…”

Watch Jon Picoult share his incredible customer service story here.

Delight Your Customers. Close More Sales.

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