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The cliché goes: “We can learn from our mistakes.” And it is true, especially as it applies to customer service. No matter how good we are, nobody can be perfect, although it is a lofty goal. At any time, there can be issues, problems and complaints. I call these negative customer service issues Moments of Misery™. Whenever something goes wrong, this is the opportunity for your best customer service strategies to kick in. So, I’ve compiled a list of questions to ask when something goes wrong. Hopefully, this list will help you learn from these experiences and help prevent them from happening in the future. 1. How are you going to handle the problem for the customer? Think about an immediate solution delivered with the right attitude and a sense of urgency that will restore the customer’s confidence in you. 2. Why did it happen? Analyze to determine why this happened. 3. Has it happened before? If it has happened before, why did it happen again? Analyze to determine the problem and what you can do to prevent, or at least minimize, the chances of this happening again. 4. Can it happen again? If this is the first time the problem or mistake has occurred, determine how to prevent it from happening again. (See question number five.) 5. Can a process be implemented to prevent it from happening again? This is the follow-up to question number four. If there is a process that you can put in place to prevent the problem or mistake from occurring again, do it. 6. Can you catch it before the customer calls you? This is very important. If you know the problem can potentially happen, have a system in place to check and either fix it before the customer finds out or let them know before they find out on their own. In other words, be proactive. 7. Who’s involved in preventing it from happening (again)? Determine who is responsible for eliminating the problem and what has to be done. 8. If this is a problem that doesn’t happen often, if ever (a “freak occurrence”), what would you do differently if in the same situation? After the problem has been brought to your attention and ultimately resolved, decide if this was the best way to handle it or if there is a better way. 9. Is there information now that we didn’t have before it happened? If this is the first time the problem or mistake occurred, you should be able to find new data or an experience that will help you prevent it from happening again. 10. What did we learn from it? Look at all of the answers to the above questions. You should have several insights on what happened, why it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. These questions apply to both your external and internal customers. Remember that the goal isn’t just to fix a problem. It is to regain the customer’s confidence. As you answer the above questions, keep that in mind. Finally, this is not a complete list. I’m sure there are other questions to ask that could help you resolve or prevent negative customer service issues. And our loyal readers of these blogs and articles (That would be you!) might know what they are. So, don’t be shy. Send them our way. We’ll add them to the list and include them in a future article. (Please email me directly at Thank you!) Shep Hyken is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn. (Copyright ©MMXI, Shep Hyken)

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