When addressing a quality management class the other day, the issue of customer relationships surfaced. The following points were discussed which I thought might be worth sharing.

Most customer relationships don't fail because something went wrong. Your best customers know that mistakes happen. No one likes mistakes, but most customers are understanding.

Although customers may be tolerant of the situation, it's what happens next that can cripple the relationship.

How we recover from a mishap is where the possibilities lie. If we remain open, engaged and focused on making things better, the door is open to build a durable, ongoing partnership. Not just for our customers, but for all the people we work with and count on to deliver expectations.

Too often, we're so focused on not failing to deliver on expectations, or so filled with embarrassment when we do, we fail to allocate enough emotional effort to do the most important thing—making a full recovery.

Recovery doesn't necessarily mean giving a refund or giving lower bowl tickets to professional sports event. Certainly, compensating the customer is part of the recovery process; however, truly seeing the other person, understanding what happened and doing the necessary work to move forward is also part of the recovery.

This is why front-line people are so important in positive recovery. Again, not by processing refunds or exchanges, but by bolstering relationships. Jan Carlzon, former CEO of the SAS Group, called these interactions "moments of truth." There are countless numbers of these every day which can lead to success or making decisions which can never be retrieved.

Product quality is important and might be the main reason customers choose to do business with our companies, things have shifted over the recent decades. More recent studies indicate about 70% of customers leave organizations to do business elsewhere due to poor customer service/relationships.

Think about it...