Handling The Complaining Customer

Moments of Magic

Recently I was in Chicago speaking for Saloman Smith Barney where I met Kevin Green, one of their top financial consultants. He shared a story that makes the point that great service can be one of your best sales tools.

Not long ago Kevin was at a black-tie wedding at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton hotel in Chicago.  A server came by with a special sauce for the entrée and accidentally spilled it on one of the guests at the table.

The sauce was hot, so the first thing the server did was ask the guest, “Are you okay?”  Fortunately he was.  The server then asked the guest to remove his jacket and promised him that he could have it cleaned in less than 30 minutes.  The gentleman removed his coat and made a joke with the server that it better not take 31 minutes.  About twenty minutes later the server returned the coat without a trace of sauce.  Everyone at the table was impressed.

The server was well trained, not only in delivering great service, but also in the “Art of Recovery.”  There was a problem, and he knew how to fix it. First he made sure the guest was okay.  Then he took care of the jacket.  The Ritz had dry cleaning equipment on the premises, so it was a simple matter of taking the soiled jacket downstairs to be cleaned.

“No big deal,” you might say.  As Paul Harvey says, “Here is the rest of the story.”

Our guest with the soiled tuxedo has three daughters.  Two of them are getting married in the next couple of years.  The server didn’t know this, and it really didn’t matter.  He was just doing his job.  And, I’m sure you can guess where they are getting married.  The Ritz!

Why?  The answer is easy: unbelievable service.  The Ritz is known for being first class.  But not only do they have great banquets, great food, great rooms – and more – they also can be counted on to do the right thing when there is a problem.  A salesman didn’t close the deal.  A server did – just by doing what he was supposed to do.  As they say in their mission statement, “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”  Yes, the Ritz is a classy place, and they know how to
take care of their guests.

The message is clear.  You don’t have to be in sales to make a sale. No matter what you do, provide great service.  It not only keeps customers, it helps makes sales!

Click here to return to the main Magic Hints page.


Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author who helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and learning products, please contact (314) 692-2200.
Email: shep@hyken.com  Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.

Shep Hyken's Knowledge Products

Shepard Virtual Training

The Customer Focus Online Virtual Interactive Training Program

Shepard VT is a web-based training solution focused on bringing you and your organization some of the best training in a format that is fresh, innovative and very effective. Experience a sample of our training by clicking on the Take the Tour button or click the Virtual Training Center button below to get started today.

Courses: The Customer Focus™, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, The Package—Get Customer Focused and Be Amazing, and Five Ways to Create an Amazing Customer Service Experience.

Virtual Training Center

*Ask us about corporate license discounts.


The Convenience Revolution

How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty

Amaze Every Customer Every Time

52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet

240 page hardback book

The Amazement Revolution

Seven Customer Service Strategies to Create an Amazing Customer (and Employee) Experience

224 page hardback book

The Cult of the Customer

The Cult of the Customer

Create an Amazing Customer Experience that Turns Satisfied Customers into Customer Evangelists!

256 page hardcover book

Moments of Magic

Moments of Magic

Be a Star With Your Customers and Keep Them Forever

156 page hardback book

The Loyal Customer

The Loyal Customer

A Lesson From a Cab Driver

64 page paperback or eBook

Be Amazing Or Go Home

Seven Customer Service Habits That Create Confidence With Everyone


Phenomenal Customer Service

Phenomenal Customer Service

How to Create Moments of Magic That Turn Ordinary Interactions Into Memorable Experiences

80 minute training DVD with MP3 audio version

Online Courses

7 Strategies to Win Customers for Life

7 Strategies to Win Customers for Life

A mini course from Shep Hyken

Email Series

Weekly Business Insight Series

Weekly Business Insight Series!

52 Weekly Business Tips, Ideas and Insights Delivered to Your Email


iPhone and Android apps

Free iPhone and Android Apps

The Shep Hyken App for iPhone and Android

Order safely and securely online. We accept