The Walt Disney Company is one of the most well known examples of a company succeeding in large measure by applying the principles of customer advocacy and service recovery—principles that have become an integral part of Disneys operations.
Prior to starting his own company, Integrated Loyalty Systems, Jake Poore spent close to 20 years in customer service working on service recovery for the Walt Disney Company in Orlando and Paris entertaining 25-35 million people a year.
According to Jake, "everyone makes mistakes, that's human. But how do you solicit those mistakes and rectify them so that the story is now possibly better than if there were no mistake at all?"
Jake's philosophy takes corporate apologies to a whole new level. He welcomes and even embraces the opportunity to apologize by actively seeking out reasons for doing so.
As such, he's able to improve operations, his business, and grow his customer base.
He goes on to explain that "uneventful does not create loyalty, and does not drive return visits or intent to refer new business ."
Perhaps the worst outcome of all is a situation where mistakes aren't noticed and customers who experience poor service simply walk away without complaining and with no intention to return.
Jake points out that almost 70% of unhappy customers who decide to leave your business don't write letters of complaint. Finding and/or soliciting complaints by being proactive is the key—according to Poore, it's an art.
Finding customers who have complaints (legitimate or exaggerated) provides the best opportunity to fix the problem, retain loyalty and maintain satisfaction.
Positive stories about bad experiences are just as important, and occasionally far more important, than positive stories about good experiences—the latter are expected while the former are impressive, more memorable and more likely to get repeated.
Think about your reaction upon hearing of a company that truly over-delivered on righting a wrong. Is it the mistake that you recall which left you with a negative impression of the business? Or, do you view the company favorably and remember how impressed you were by how they handled things? For us, it would always be the latter.
"If your customer goes home mad," Jake explains, "it is not only too late, but they will tell many people THEIR STORY. But if you can catch them and correct the error, now they're possibly telling YOUR STORY!"
Having them tell your story, as opposed to theirs, is critical. And, a well crafted business apology will go a long way in making sure that YOUR STORY is well received thereby empowering your business.
Jake Poore was so successful at customer service while at Disney he went on to start his own company Integrated Loyalty Systems, a consulting firm specializing in service development, process improvement, leadership training and service excellence.