Screw it up and WIN!


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Here’s a reality check. Your business, as well as mine, is going to make mistakes – lots of them. Assuredly we are trying to limit those breakdowns; however, some of our customers wont be raving and may even be raging about a subset of experiences with us. If there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel, its the comfort that comes from from knowing that our competition is invariably also failing customers and that we have a chance to distinguish ourselves by our commitment to make things great when things go wrong.

So here’s a challenge, can you create a culture where your shortcomings are actually the source of your business’ greatest strength? Rafe Needleman writing for CNET shares his perception of striking difference in the service mindset between Dell and Apple. According to Rafe, when he encountered a problem with a Dell PC tower, Dell’s outsourced repairmen inconvenienced his schedule by requiring in-home maintenance and then the repairman failed to show up for the appointment all together. After several frustrating interactions via phone, e-mail, and even Twitter, Rafe purportedly received a refund but vowed never to purchase from Dell again.

Even though the majority of Rafe’s Apple devices have also needed some sort of repair at some point or another, Rafe reports “excitement” to drop his laptop off for repair at an Apple Genius Bar. Excitement – really? According to Rafe, the Apple service culture results in a consistent repair experience in which he is greeted warmly, his computer is fixed promptly, and where Apple employees are exceptionally accommodating.

So how does your service recovery and repair process stack up to the two examples presented by Rafe? Is your customer dreading or excited by the opportunity to have your people fix their problem? If you think you might be residing in the land of service recovery dread that should be your first and most important problem to fix!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


  1. Hi Joseph

    Very rightly said. I believe service breakdowns are excellent opportunities. If you compare two customers…. One never had a problem and was satisfied with your product. The other had major issues… and you as a company responded really well… The second one will be an “advocate” whereas the first one is more likely to be a “passive”.
    So as a company, breakdowns are opportunities to show how much you care. Once you stand by customers when they needed you, you will not only have them, but also their friends. (Of course that does not mean that your service levels are so bad that products/services keep breaking down).
    But having a system where you deliver exceptionally well in a breakdown needs a lot of front end empowerment, which is a big challenge.


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