What do you do when wrong information is given out by staff?

Posted on May 27, 2014

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By Molly Fast

Last week Erin talked about what do to when wrong information goes out on your event’s website or via group email to your participant base. This week, I’m picking up the baton to talk about what to do when wrong information goes out during 1:1 phone and/or email conversations between your event staff and participants.

There are a whole host of reasons as to why this could happen beginning and ending with because we’re human. In addition to that, however, here are some other reasons why the wrong information gets communicated during 1:1 conversations between your participants and staff:

  • New staff aren’t fully trained.
  • Decisions are made by people who aren’t interacting with participants on a daily basis and unfortunately, that information isn’t shared with your frontline staff.
  • People receiving information sometimes choose to hear what they want to hear vs. what they actually heard.

But here’s the thing. None of these reasons actually matter. How you respond when someone reaches back out to say, “I’m frustrated that I received bad information” is exactly what matters most. This next step is a little bit like a dance; one wrong move and you can make the situation worse. But one step in the right direction can actually make someone happy.

A few stats to consider regarding average customer satisfaction rates:

  • A customer who has an interaction with no problems = 78% satisfaction rate.
  • A customer who has an interaction with no problems + bad customer service = 32% satisfaction rate.

And here’s the kicker…

  • A customer who has an interaction with problems + good customer service = 89% satisfaction rate.

Although initially a bit of a head scratcher, this actually makes sense to me. I’ve been “wronged” in a customer service setting before, but when the company takes the proper steps to address and fix the issue, I’m often times happier than I was in the first place. And more inclined to continue my business.

When you make a mistake (because it will happen) and your staff gives out wrong information (“No we will not be supplying you with the full route information.”) here are simple steps you can take to leave your participant happier than even you could imagine:

  • Listen- Here’s the holy grail of this post. I’ve learned through years and years of experience leading the best customer service team in the business (and through personal exploration as well), that people don’t necessarily need to get their way. What they really need is for someone to listen to them. Provide the time to truly listen to someone’s frustrations and let them know that you hear what they are saying.
  • Apologize- It’s quite simple and you can use any variation of this statement: “I’m sorry you received wrong information. I am going to help you figure this out.”
  • Take the initiative to solve the participants’ problem- Regardless of what your position is, we all take responsibility for ensuring our participants have a wonderful experience. By assuring the participant you’re committed to solving their problem, you’re sending a very clear message that you care and this person is important to you.  Did you know 96% of unhappy customers won’t complain but will tell 9-12 people about their experience? And that loyal customers are five times as likely to recommend to friends and family after a good experience? Harness that potential people!
  • Follow-up with the staff member who gave out the wrong information- To get an even better footing with a “wronged” participant (and to do the right thing), let them know you intend to follow-up with the staff member to ensure they know what happened and know how to handle the situation in the future. If you are the staff member who gave out the wrong information, remember it’s okay to say “I don’t know the answer to that. Let me find out and get back to you.” Additionally, you can smooth things over by letting the participant know that you won’t make the same mistake twice. (Cause you won’t, right?)
  • Thank the participant for giving you an opportunity to correct the mistake- Although it may not feel like it at the time, it is a privilege to be able to fix a mistake. And when someone takes the time out of their busy day to let you know when something hasn’t gone right, you should express gratitude for being able to make the situation better. We all know, or you will in a moment, that it costs a lot more money (like five times more!) to bring in a new customer than it does to retain one. So investing your time into making things right is the smarter way to go.

Here’s what I know. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the service industry. But we each have an ability to make things better if we have the skill, motivation and authority to help correct a mistake and recover our participants’ trust after a misstep.

Molly Fast leads the company’s local operations for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day series and is privileged to work with Event 360’s participant-facing team. For over a decade, Molly has been fortunate enough to combine her love of people with the ability to make a difference in the work she does focusing on exceeding expectations and delighting participants along the way. When not roaming around Ireland, Molly can be found taking photos or talking to strangers in Santa Monica where she lives with her husband and their black lab, Clancy. You can find Molly on Google+TwitterLinkedIn and her favorite social media tool, Instagram.

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