There is a restaurant near my office that has great service and wonderful food. Every so often we order lunch and bring it back to the office. Last week, we ordered on two different days, and both times we had the unfortunate experience of discovering that the order was wrong—after we got back to the office.

The first time I just accepted it. The second time, just two days later, the same thing happened—and this was after the person taking the phone order repeated it back to us to make sure it was right.

So, we decided to call and let them know. I spoke to the manager and told him what had happened. How did he respond? Exactly as I expected: He first apologized then offered to replace the meal if we wanted to come back in. I told him it would be too big of a hassle for us to go back and pick it up, so he asked for our address. I assumed he might send me a gift card to make up for the two meals that were wrong.

Two hours later, the manager showed up at our offices and surprised us with a second apology and a gift card. He said it was the least he could do to make up for the two meals that were not prepared according to our order.

This response to my complaint was right on several counts. First, on the phone he sincerely apologized. He took responsibility and accountability for what had happened, even though he was not the one who took the order or prepared the food.

Second, he offered to replace the order, and when I told him it would be too much hassle to drive back to the restaurant, he offered a gift card to more than cover the two meals that were wrong. (By the way, this was a great way to get me back in the restaurant. How else could I use the gift cards?)

So far, this was all standard operating procedure, what you might expect in this circumstance. But this manager took it to another, much higher level. He took a third step, which was to add the personal touch and show up at my office.

That third step is what makes a difference: It’s the personal touch. Now, not everyone has the luxury of driving a few blocks to personally apologize to a customer. However, the personal touch you might take could be in the form of a personal thank-you note. Or, if something has gone wrong, a phone call to offer a sincere and sympathetic apology. The key ingredient is the personal touch that goes beyond standard operating procedure.

Surprise your clients and get personal. You will find you win their hearts (and their business).

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Shep Hyken is a professional speaker and best-selling author. For more information on Shep’s speaking presentations, call 314-692-2200, email shep@hyken.com or go to www.hyken.com.