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An Example of Successful Service Recovery: A Real Apology

Sister had taken on the responsibility of ordering a big basket of goodies from Zingerman’s, the famous Ann Arbor deli and emporium, as part of the confab and celebration of Parents’ anniversary.

Unfortunately, the shipment was somewhat damaged in transit. The big cookies were crumbled and a couple of the brownies were smooshed, but we know how to eat broken baked goods and were not deterred. And the treats that were still intact were diverse enough to satisfy three generations of opinionated tasters.

Following is Zingerman’s engaging, brand-congruent, automatic check on post-delivery customer satisfaction, Sister’s very smart answer, and Zingerman’s effective response, annotated to show the giftedness on both parts.

Zingerman’s Emailed Satisfaction Survey

Sister’s Skillful Answer

Zingerman’s Effective Response

A Last Zinger

Please don’t go running to redo your complaint response emails to be just like Zingerman’s. If you’ve seen the company’s catalog or website, then you know that all this text is wholly consistent with their brand image and culture. “Wow” may not be the right tone for your business, and your reps may not have as many replacement options to offer. Plus, your “Leadership Team” may not do as much reading and follow-up.

But you certainly could — and should — be evaluating all your customer communications to see if they acknowledge individual customer comments and problems as well as Zingerman’s does, or if they take responsibility as clearly.

Onward and upward,


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