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10 questions to ask if something fails

February 4, 2014
By Shep Hyken


Feb. 4, 2104 – As the cliché goes, we can learn from our mistakes. And no matter how hard we try to prevent errors, they will happen. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself in order to help you learn from your customer service oversights.

Feb. 4, 2014 – When dealing with
customers, issues, problems and complaints can happen at any time. 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. If it is delivered with
the right attitude and a sense of urgency it 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 happening again.

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 his or her 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, what can you do differently if the same situation happens in the future?
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.

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.

Hyken is a professional speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal
bestselling business author who works with companies that want to develop loyal
relationships with their customers and employees. He can be reached by phone at
314. 692.2200, or by e-mail at You can also visit his website,
Shep also offers customer service-training programs. For more information,