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By Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM

March 16, 2011

When it comes to serving others, chances are that you will make mistakes occasionally. Even in the most opulent, 5-star hotels and restaurants, guests are sometimes disappointed. The same goes for hospitals, banks, nursing homes, spas, airlines, and any other businesses that serve people. The key to this seemingly unavoidable dilemma of making mistakes is how well you exemplify the “100% principle”. The 100% principle is simply this: Whenever you receive a complaint or request, follow it through until you are 100% sure that the customer is happy with the resolution. It does not get much simpler than that.  

We recently had a new website built and the web designer offered a training session on how my team could update the site’s content on our own. During the training, I asked about two features of the web software, and Kaci, who was the trainer, did not know the answer (she was obviously embarrassed about not knowing). She then promised that she would find out and then follow up with me. Now, over the years I have unfortunately developed a sense of skepticism whenever someone promises to follow up, because they usually don’t do so. In fact, I am usually the one who has to follow up with the company who said they would follow up with me! Backwards…isn’t it? At any rate, Kaci sent an email to me that same evening explaining that she emailed the appropriate people and they would know the answers to my questions. [Note: You don’t have to wait until the final resolution to communicate with the customer. Keep the customer updated on what you are currently doing to help.]

The next day, Kaci sent me an email with the answers to my questions and followed up by asking if there was anything else I needed. She then proactively called me a few days later to inquire if we had any additional questions that she could assist us with. Ladies and gentlemen, THAT was the 100% principle in action.

At a recent hotel stay, I noticed that I had forgotten my toothpaste and toothbrush at home, so I called the operator to request a complimentary set of those toiletries to be sent to my room. The operator said she would have it sent up within 10 minutes. 30 minutes went by, and still no toiletries. I then called back the operator to see what was going on.[Note: Your customers  should NEVER have to follow up with you first. You should proactively give updates.] She said, “I thought THEY sent it up already" I immediately thought,"who  exactly is  they?”. She then promised me that the toiletries would be in my room shortly. Still, I received nothing 15 minutes afterwards. I then stepped into the hallway, saw a housekeeper, and politely requested toiletries from her cart, which she happily gave to me. 30 minutes after receiving the toiletries from the housekeeper, I finally received the toiletries that were promised to me over 1 hour prior from the operator.  That is NOT the 100% principle in action. 

 The operator could have given me a time quote, then followed up with the appropriate department to ensure that the items got delivered. She would then follow-up with me to either update me on the status or confirm that I received the toiletries. The most important element of the 100% principle is to take personal ownership of a request or complaint. Those who work like they work own it, will follow through to the end.

Here is a simple follow-up log that you can use with your team. Please benchmark it, and refine as you see fit.

There are countless examples of people not following through. If you say that you will do something, then do it! Or at least make sure it gets done. Follow-up with whomever you need to, but your ultimate goal is to ensure that your customers are 100% happy with the resolution. Follow-up, follow-up, and follow-up some more. Your customers deserve it.  

Supplemental section:

Whenever you receive a complaint or a request, here is a recommended sequence to follow:

  1. Say you will own the complaint / request. 
  2. Get the customer’s contact information (email and phone # should suffice). 
  3. Get the customer’s preferred mode of contact (email, text, phone call). 
  4. Begin the process of fixing the issue. Ensure that the resolution matches the complaint / request. 
  5. If you need to pass the issue to another person / department  to handle, then do so. (But remember, that YOU still own it!). 
  6. Proactively inform the customer on the status every 24 hours using the customer’s preferred mode of contact. 
  7. When you’ve received confirmation that the issue has been resolved, then contact the customer to inform them. 
  8. Follow-up to ensure that the customer is, in fact, happy with the resolution. 

Recommended tools for upcoming and veteran “follow-up” pros:

  • Follow-up log 
  • Schedule reminders in your own calendar (use a program like Microsoft Outlook or any other calendar tool) 
  • A personal attitude of ownership and commitment to follow-through. 

Additional Resources

*Be sure to visit our Work Like You Own It! site for several WOW stories to share with your team. 


Some Recent Testimonials

“I also would like to personally thank you for the time you spent with us and the information you shared throughout the conference.  I have sat through many speakers in my career, but I must say, you brought such great material that is very relevant to business (personal too) and conveyed it with enthusiasm and examples.  I appreciate the fact that I could come back to my office and immediately implement things right away.”

            --Susan Weeks, Marriott ExecuStay - Atlanta

“I always enjoy attending Bryan’s webinars and reading his articles! I find them stimulating, inspiring, to the point and very relevant to my industry and to the strategies we are working on implementing. I’m always left full of motivation to share what I just heard or read and the powerful, yet simple nature of his messages makes it easier to cascade them to all team members at all levels in the organization. It is even more encouraging as the points shared with us are not only “nice words and theory” and they can all translate into simple, actions and invite people to act. It should come as no surprise that each month we use one of these messages in our newsletter to our associates to raise awareness, strive for excellence and encourage all to follow! Thank you Bryan!”  

            --Sara Bianchi, The Address Hotels & Resorts - Dubai

About Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM

Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar and Work Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers' Expectations. Bryan's passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies. He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement. As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company's online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.

Contact: Bryan Williams / 240-401-6958

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