Ten Questions to Ask When Something Fails

publication date: May 30, 2018
author/source: Shep Hyken


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 anytime there can be issues, problems and complaints. I call these negative customer service issues Moments of MiseryTM. 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? Do an analysis to determine why this happened.

3. Has it happened before? If it has happened before, why did it happen again? Do an analysis 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 what you can do to prevent it from ever happening again. (See question number five.)

5. Can a process be put in place 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 the customer 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 took place, 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.

Important point: These questions apply for both your external and internal customers.

Remember 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.


Shep Hyken, CSP is a professional speaker and author who helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more information on Shep's speaking programs, books, and other 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.