Sympathize. “I can understand why you are upset,” or, “yes, I can see the problem,” or, “I am so sorry that we have put you through this” will go a long way to calming most people.

Act. “I am going to talk to the person who does our scheduling,” or, “I am going to go back to production to take care of this myself,” or 100 other things you can say that will solve the problem.

Vindicate. It’s important to let the customer know that this isn’t business as usual. In my custom-framing business, if we frame something improperly we say, “We have a quality control inspector in addition to your sales consultant who checked over your order. They usually catch things like this. Obviously they dropped the ball. I’m really embarrassed. This kind of performance did not get us where we are. Again, I’m really sorry.”

Eat something. Customers did not give you money to get bad service. Many times it is appropriate to give them something. A restaurant might offer a free dessert, another company could offer free delivery or a discount. It costs a lot to find a new customer; it is certainly worth something to keep an existing one.

How to S.A.V.E. Customer Service. Only thing I don’t like here: “The quality control inspector dropped the ball and I’m really embarrassed.” Good service shouldn’t necessitate throwing one of your own team members under the bus this way.