Wintrip Consulting Group : Take No PrisonersTake No Prisoners is a free weekly memo from Scott Wintrip that explores how Radical Accountability prospers companies and changes lives. Instead of taking people hostage with outdated, heavy-handed, and ineffective methods of management, measurement, and motivation, Radical Accountability focuses on creating an unwavering responsibility for getting what matters most done.

When’s the last time a customer thanked you for making a mistake? If the answer is never or rarely, your company must not be practicing Extreme Customer Service (ECS).

Last week I experienced a typical missed opportunity to deliver ECS. I had decided to try a different vendor for printing, and gave the Sir Speedy franchise in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida a shot. After agreeing on how the job would be done with the General Manager, I sent an updated version of the document. He confirmed receipt and promised completion of this small order, just 100 to start, by the next day.

Upon picking it up, I immediately noticed they had printed the older version. The GM immediately acknowledged their error, but indicated a reprint couldn’t be done until later the next day, well after when I needed it. When I suggested I go ahead and use the older version, allowing them extra time to correct their mistake, he announced I’d have to pay for the reprint if I took the bad batch with me. His only concession-a 30% discount on the reprint.

In the end, he reprinted the document and delivered it to my event early the next morning. While this got the job done, it left a negative impression, shaken trust, and the impression that collecting revenue was more important than impressing a new customer. Sir Speedy was anything but fast and accurate and instead behaved like Sir Sloppy.

Extreme Customer Service seizes mistakes as relationship building opportunities. It’s accomplished by resolving issues or mistakes in such a way that makes the customer grateful for the original problem. To do this requires collaboration with the client to create a solution that is not only about them and their needs and expectations, but also goes one step further to exceed those expectations. The result: an extremely satisfied customer who is grateful for all that transpired.

If the GM in my story had accepted my suggestion or collaborated with me to create an ECS moment, he would have won a new customer singing his praises. Instead, he lost one and became a shining example of what not to do.

Extreme Customer Service costs little and repays everyone many times over. The alternative costs dearly and returns nothing but grief.

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