I recently came across this post on Google+.

Shocking service from an optician who has just sent me an email saying please don't post negative things about us as it drives small businesses to the wall... then please get your act together and start delivering what you promise...

This optician chose not to shine. He failed to listen to his customer’s complaint and shifted blame, caring only about how her comments affected his business. Really? A better move would have been to apologize (even of the customer is off base), then offer to take conversation offline to make things right. If handled the right way, his screw-up could have turned into a positive opportunity for him and his business. Instead he has negative comments to deal with.

Customers expect consistency and usually something close to perfection. At the very least, they expect to get what they are promised. Sometimes in business we fail to meet expectations. Let’s face it, as Forrest Gump said, “it happens” and even the best of us screw up from time to time. Fortunately, screwing up can be your chance to shine. Not delivering on customer expectations can be a huge opportunity to showcase why the customer made the right decision in choosing you to begin with and why she should not only continue to do business with you, but recommend you to her friends.

When you screw up, you are no longer talking about a routine transaction, you now have your customer’s full attention. It’s up to you what you do with it. You can dismiss the problem because it’s too much trouble or shift the blame to your customer. Or you can correct the problem, show them you care, and surprise them by exceeding their expectations. In doing so, you may gain a customer for life, and if you surprise her enough she may talk about it to her friends or post her experience online. Of course, surprising your customers in this way shouldn’t only happen when you screw up, it just provides an excellent opportunity to do so. The key to pulling it off, is that you actually have to care; care enough to listen to customer complaints and then care enough to go the extra mile to make things right.