Try these 4 steps in the MAMA Method for responding to a customer who is upset about a service failure:

  • Make time to listen
  • Acknowledge and apologize
  • (have a) Meeting of Minds
  • Act! And Follow Up

Step 1: Make time to listen.

Immediately stop whatever you’re doing. Listen with your ears, your eyes, and your body. Don’t interrupt the customer with questions or explanations. Only after listening quietly, strive to learn more about the situation by probing for what the customer is specifically upset about.

Step 2: Acknowledge and apologize.

Acknowledge the situation and, if an apology is called for (by which I mean the customer feels an apology is warranted, not necessarily that you do), apologize sincerely. Even if you have no reason to feel that you’re at fault, you should convey to the customer that you recognize and regret what they’ve gone through.

Be sure to make it a real apology and not a fake apology, like “I’m sorry if you feel that way.” 

Step 3: (Have a) meeting of minds.

Strive to align yourself to the customer’s expectations for what a solution would look like, and work from there to determine what would both be acceptable to them and would be practical (or even possible) for you to pull off. Once you have a match, spell out the agreed-on solution, as you understand it. Commit to exactly what you will do to resolve the issue, and by when. 

Step 4: Act! And follow up.

Take care of the issue as promised. Follow up with anyone to whom you’ve assigned all or part of the resolution. Follow up with the customer to ensure all is well.

Later on, examine what went wrong with an eye toward identifying negative patterns, systemic issues, and chokepoints. Strive to learn from the error, using this new knowledge, where applicable, to refine future company operations and training.

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