How Do You Handle It When You Mess Up?

Let’s face it, we all mess up and drop the ball sometimes. No individual or business is perfect. At Ridgecrest, our staff works very hard to provide an environment conducive to life change, but we still make mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen so here’s the real question. How do you handle things when you mess up?

I recently had lunch with my family at one of our favorite places, Sam’s Sports Grill at The Streets of Indian Lake. Their hamburgers are awesome and I always look forward to having one.

Unfortunately, on this day, the burger was not so good. Without going into the whole story, suffice it to say there was a problem. The kitchen tried to fix it and only made it worse. Finally I politely told our server it simply wasn’t a good experience.

From there she turned it over to her manager (good training) and he did a great job handling the situation. In fact, here are 3 things he did right that anyone should do when they mess up.

  1. Own the problem – Being an old food guy, I knew they were having problems in the kitchen and appeared to be short-staffed. When the manager came over to apologize, he shared that it was his fault they were short-staffed. I have no idea if he was the one who actually made out the work schedule for that day, but he took full responsibility for not having enough help in the kitchen.
  2. Take action to fix the problem – After apologizing, he offered to bring me a fresh burger or anything else I wanted. He also let me know he was going to take the burger off my bill. I felt that was fair, so I was satisfied with the outcome at that point.
  3. Help me to forget about the problem – A couple of minutes later he came back by our table to let me know he appreciated our business and the way I had handled my complaint. He then hit me with his WOW factor, a $10 gift card to use on our next visit. Totally unexpected and definitely appreciated. As a result of this simple, low cost gesture, I walked out of the restaurant thinking about when I could come back to use the gift card, not the problem we had just encountered.

Problems are going to happen with your conference or event. The mistakes may or may not be your fault, but when they happen, do you ignore them or make excuses and pass the buck? Or, do you own it, fix it and overcome it? The choice is yours and people are watching to see what you do.

What do you do when you mess up?

Is The Customer Always Right?

Is the customer always right? For many businesses, this is a bedrock value that helps to define how they deliver service to their customers. Others see it as a license for customers to abuse the system and get stuff for free.

Last month I wrote a post on Serving from the director’s chairdealing with this question from the service provider perspective (read post here). Bottom line? For me, I’ve come to believe the customer is not always right. However, they are always the customer and businesses that forget this will not be successful for long.

Evidently the post touched some nerves as it generated numerous comments on the blog, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Virtually all of the comments were in agreement with the premise that the customer is not always right, but they all seemed to be from people on the service delivery side of the equation.

Since the great majority of the readers of are customers, I thought I would ask you…Is the customer always right? More importantly, how does a hotel or conference center’s approach to customer service impact your decision to use their facilities for your event, meeting or retreat?

Would love to hear what you think. Please take a moment and share your thoughts by commenting below. Thanks!

How's Your Service?

Over dinner with friends last week, I learned about a new guest service initiative our church will be launching over Easter weekend. The desire is for our volunteers to be much more intentional in delivering great customer service and making people feel welcome.

As we talked about what that should like, it was pretty obvious that customer service training was going to be needed. In putting together some customer service material for us to use, I came across a personal blog post I wrote last year. While the post was directed towards those operating a service related business, the basics can also be applied to churches and ministries.

Hopefully you will find this post, 5 Guest Service Tips For Leaders, helpful.

For any service industry business, customer service is what it’s all about. You can have a great product, an awesome camp setting, a beautiful store or a state of the art conference center, but if you don’t have good customer service your business will never be as successful as it could be. The primary focus has to be on the customer.

With this mind, here are 5 tips leaders can follow to ensure their customer/guest service is where it needs to be:

  • The quality of customer service your organization provides cannot exceed the quality of those providing the service. Great customer service is provided by people, not systems. Invest in your staff with fair wages and benefits and above all, training. Systems don’t serve people, people do.
  • Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. Employees follow their leader. If you’re short and rude with them, they’ll be more likely to be short and rude with your customers. Do you enthusiastically greet your staff each day? Are you polite with them? Do you listen to them? Consistently poor customer service is more a reflection of management than it is of the employees.
  • Know who your customers are. When a returning camper comes into your lodge, do you recognize them? What about their parents, can you call out to them by name? Everyone loves to hear their own name. Remembering a customer’s name is a great way to show how much you value their business.
  • Make sure your customers know who you are. Do your guests/customers/campers and parents know who you are? No, this is not an ego thing. Being visible and accessible to your customers is important. Don’t be like the mystery sales manager at a car dealership. You know, that invisible person who keeps telling your salesman what price they can sell you the car for. Instead, be more like the airline pilot greeting all of his passengers as they leave the plane. People want to know they have access to the person in charge.
  • At every opportunity, ask your customers what they think of your service. Make it easy for your guests to give their feedback. Comment cards at the check out counter or in the guest room, electronic surveys and/or paper surveys are all ok. Ask them what they like; what they don’t like; what you could improve, would they recommend your facility, etc. Be sure to thank them when they take the time to give you their feedback.

As the leader, you set the tone for customer service. So, get out of your office and mingle with your employees and customers. You’ll be pleased to see the positive results and you just might have a little more fun at the same time!

Curious, as a church or ministry leader, how do you see these guest service principles applying to your church or ministry?

Service Done Right!

WinterBroadmoorNite_interior.jpgEarlier this week I attended CCCA‘s annual leadership conference, HighDef09. The event this year was held at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs. To say this hotel is nice would be like saying Jimmie Johnson is an ok NASCAR driver (I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but I hear JJ really is a pretty fair driver.).

For those of you not familiar with The Broadmoor, it is a 5 star resort located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Since it’s the only 5 star resort this old Holiday Inn guy has ever stayed in, I don’t really have anything to compare it to other than to say it’s well beyond nice.

As you would expect, the hotel itself was beautiful and my room was probably the nicest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. I especially enjoyed the flat screen TV built into the wall above the bathroom vanity. (Never had to miss ESPN!)  I also enjoyed the nightly turndown service, the well equiped fitness center and simply having to call Housekeeping when I was in need of ice (explained why there were no ice machines on the guest room floors).

All of the facilities and amenities were what you would expect when you’re paying to stay at a 5 star resort, so no real surprise there. What was a surprise to me was the overwhelming friendliness of every staff member I came in contact with. It wasn’t really until the end of the second day that I really began to take note of this.

As I was walking to that evening’s general session, I passed four different room attendants heading into the tower I was staying in. Each one smiled and spoke to me as we passed each other. That’s when I realized these guys obviously take customer service training very seriously. In many hotels and conference centers the primary emphasis of customer service training is directed at the front of the house employees (front desk clerks, bell staff, wait/banquet staff, etc) and not much attention is given to training back of the house employees (housekeeping, maintenance, kitchen, etc).

Based on what I experienced, this is certainly not the case at The Broadmoor. They understand that many guests have more interaction with housekeeping and maintenance staff, in and around the hotel, than they do with front desk clerks and banquet waiters. I have no doubt they spend a significant amount of time on customer service training with all their employees.

The end result is a very friendly hotel where service is done right. The really cool thing is that you don’t have to be a 5 star hotel to provide friendly service. All is takes is dedication to training all employees in providing excellent customer service.

Hopefully, when you visit Ridgecrest or Glorieta, you will experience friendly service from all of our employees. That’s certainly our desire. If that’s not the case, please do not hesitate to let us know.