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Inconvenienced

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The only thing better than spending Spring Break in Florida is coming home. Our sunburns were peeling, our bags were packed and our grandparents were kissed goodbye as we headed into Tampa International Airport for a nonstop flight on our favorite airline. Within minutes of being dropped off curbside, we had checked our bags and cleared security.

And we happily waited for another five hours.

Yes, happily.

How did a long delay in a crowded airport far from home at the end of a tiring trip result in two very satisfied passengers? Two reasons: warning and reward.

First, we had been told that the flights were full. Oversold, in fact, to account for beach bums who couldn’t be back in time. We were warned that every seat was taken, every inch of cargo space accounted for. Take the first seat you can find, the famously funny employees advised us. “The back of the plane arrives at the same time as the front.”

Secondly, we were rewarded – handsomely, I might add! In fact, we volunteered for a later flight to receive the reward.

Sometimes you’re behind the eight ball with Ms. Jones. You’ve overpromised and you’re about to underdeliver. Her order is late. It comes in wrong. Your truck has a flat. Your employee screwed up. Oops.

How can you use warning and reward to offset inconvenience and disappointment? Do you think Ms. Jones prefers bad news with good news, or no news at all? What price are you willing to pay for a satisfied customer?

If you handle your mishandling well, you’ll end up with a customer more satisfied than one who was never poorly handled in the first place.

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