Eventually every company gets something wrong. Companies are run by people and people screw up. It’s a regrettable but unavoidable fact of life. We are no different at Great Escape. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous. If you accept things will go wrong no matter how hard you try to prevent them then it leads you to three conclusions. Firstly, you do everything you can to minimise the risk of mistakes. This is all about good staff and systems and a desire throughout the business to get it right first time. Secondly when it goes wrong learn from it. Improve your systems, educate your staff. Thirdly, and most importantly, when it all hits the fan what customers remember is how you dealt with it. The business needs systems but also needs to be flexible and responsive – a training manual can’t cover every eventuality. Listen to complaints and respond on a case by case basis. From the early days of Great Escape it has always been important to me to go the extra mile to sort a problem. Literally. I could fill this blog for several weeks with stories of what we’ve done to sort out stranded customers but it’s part of the job. Because old cars break down we have invested huge amounts in maintenance and set up our own workshop. But breakdowns are an unavoidable part of our business – we can only minimise the frequency. So when a customer recently arrived to collect a car everything was in place to avoid a problem or rectify it if needed. This customer had booked the car to collect at 4pm and then, by email, requested an earlier collection. Although this was agreed the diary was not updated. Clearly if that error was typical or common I wouldn’t have a business. So he arrived and the car was not available. Clearly while this was a simple mistake it represented a huge problem to him. As the car was due back within 90 minutes we were willing to deliver it free of charge to him in Bristol and collect it. We would normally also offer free time in a car later in the year as compensation. Had we done this it is generally accepted that the problem would have been solved. The issue, however, was the customer’s attitude. I hold my hands up to our error and do not defend it in any way. I genuinely feel terrible that we got it wrong. But our error does not give anyone the right to shout, swear and personally abuse a member of my staff. I was notified of the problem as it happened and spoke to the customer. When I realised how my team had been treated I refused assistance and compensation. Perhaps you subscribe to the view that the customer is always right. Normally I do. But nobody should be rewarded for rudeness and abuse. I still regret that we got it wrong and weren’t able to fix it. But the lesson here is – if you want to complain do it calmly, politely and reasonably. You will get what you want that way. Accept that things go wrong, the world isn’t perfect and people make mistakes. It will make your response when they do fairer and more reasonable. And in turn you will treated fairly and reasonably. I hope that we never get it wrong again. It is a rare occurrence but I know it’s waiting for me again in the future because nobody is perfect. All we can do is try to be – and sort it out when it happens to the absolute best of our ability. As a customer hopefully that is the best assurance you can expect from any company. In turn all we ask for is politeness and courtesy. To find out more about what we do visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.