Mistakes Will Happen. What Then?

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I woke up to find a billing folio from the Nobis Hotel Stockholm in my inbox.

This was a problem, since I woke up in Chicago, and I’ve never been to Stockholm.

Nobis is part of the Marriott family.  So I checked my Marriott Bonvoy account and learned that points for this stay had been deposited.  But the last four digits of the AmEx on the folio didn’t match mine.  Curious.

Interior of the Nobis Stockholm, where I’ve never been, but I’d sure like to go. Credit: Suitcasemag.com

I emailed the Nobis Stockholm and described the situation.  I received a reply within 25 minutes from Clara, the hotel’s Service Manager.  She asked a few clarifying questions and added, “Rest assured I will get to the bottom of this.”

After receiving my reply, she responded within an hour.  Here’s an excerpt of her email:

Thank you for your cooperation and quick response.

It was a keystroke error and the wrong profile was attached to the reservation. I truly apologize for this indiscretion and hope it hasn’t caused too much trouble.

I will not remove the Bonvoy points from your account as it is the least we can do for this mistake, hopefully you can go somewhere nice for them.

Please let me know if there’s anything further I can assist with or if you have any questions or concerns.

Again, my deepest apologies.

This is dynamite customer service!  Clara did the following:

  • Owned the situation from the beginning.
  • Apologized sincerely.
  • Responded promptly.
  • Explained the root cause.
  • Resolved the situation well, even allowing me to keep the Bonvoy points for the tiny bit of trouble this matter caused me.

Some of the biggest brands in the world – lookin’ at you, Apple! – struggle to even acknowledge their flaws.  They could learn from Clara in Stockholm.  With her excellent service, she single-handedly elevated the Nobis and Marriott brands in my mind.

When you’re dealing with humans, there will be human error.  But as brand leaders (and humans), let’s remember:

It’s not the mistake that erodes trust. It’s how we handle the mistake.

About Matthew Fenton: Matthew is a former CMO who helps brands to focus, grow and win.  Since founding his consultancy, Three Deuce Branding, in 1997, he’s helped hundreds of brands to achieve “brand clarity.”  His consulting services and speaking engagements help brands to focus on what matters through positioning, strategy and ideation.  Contact Matthew here.  He’s based near Portland, in Oregon wine country.

Copyright 2020 – Matthew Fenton. All Rights Reserved. You may reprint this article with the original, unedited text intact, including the About Matthew Fenton section.