right or wrong direction or difficult choice for answers on ques
26th Jun

In our April blog post, Client Partnership Strategy: Making Common Sense, Common Practice, we discussed the “Ten Commandments of Client Retention”.  Commandment #5 states that “client retention is not an event, it is a daily process”.  In other words, everything we do or choose not to do has the potential to make the client relationship stronger or weaker.  That’s one reason we’ve implemented a Client Partnership Strategy that focuses on proactive communication to make sure that we’re asking our clients what they expect from us in an organized manner and targeting our resources to deliver on those expectations.  But what happens when things go wrong?

Let’s face it, we’re going to mess up sometimes.  So, if we stand by the idea that client retention is a daily process, how do we recover from failures with minimal damage to our relationship with the client?  Is it possible that the way we handle our missteps could increase trust and make us stronger going forward?

As parents, many of us might take issue with the idea that Disney is the happiest place on earth, but few would deny that they are masters at managing the customer experience.  We could all learn something from their expert approach.  Disney recognizes that a failure in service may not always be their fault, but they do consider it to be their problem.  The Disney Institute recommends a formal sequence of action to provide consistent service recovery.  They call it H.E.A.R.D.:

  • Hear: Let the customer tell their entire story without interruption. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen.
  • Empathize: Convey that you deeply understand how the customer feels. Use phrases like “I’d be frustrated, too.”
  • Apologize: Sometimes, this is all the customer is looking for. The power of a sincere apology should never be underestimated.  Even if you didn’t do whatever made them upset, you can still genuinely be apologetic for the way your customer feels.
  • Resolve: Resolve the issue quickly, or make sure that your employees are empowered to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer: “what can I do to make this right?”
  • Diagnose: Get to the bottom of why the mistake occurred, without blaming anyone; Remove any personal guilt and examine the processes related to the service failure.


How appreciative will our clients be when we don’t waste time trying to determine whether we should have any accountability for their current problem and just take the steps that we can to help them move forward?  As Functional Pathways continues to work toward a more client-centric approach, the way that we handle our missteps will greatly define our quality in the eyes of the customer.

Do you have an example where we made a mess of things, but then set things right and delighted the client?  If so, please share them with me at kbuchanan@fprehab.com

Kellie Buchanan

VP of Client Retention


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