Is Your Humility Oven Lit?

Struggling as caregiver to both her parents, Gail Watson searched  for help and discovered Nurse Next Door, a Vancouver BC based company that provides support to help care for loved ones at home. Founded in 2001 by John DeHart and Ken Sim, Nurse Next Door was born out of their personal experiences when their own caregiver search for their parents caused concern as they were repeatedly sent inappropriate candidates. Like many small businesses borne out of personal passion, Nurse Next Door has grown rapidly. But as any fast growing business knows, growing pains occur.

Earn the Right Back to Customers Trust

DeHart and Sim decided that when mistakes happen, they would send a sincere and heartfelt apology, explaining what went wrong, how they’d resolve the situation, and humbly asking forgiveness.

When they slip up, Nurse Next Door sends a freshly baked pie as part of their apology. Not any old pie—they send a HUMBLE PIE, with a note that says, “We are very humbled by our mistake and sincerely apologize for the poor service.” They depend on a few local bakers in Vancouver to supply the pies. Sim and DeHart say, “What’s wrong with eating a little humble pie?” Especially when a customer is at stake?

Gail Watson received one of those pies after Nurse Next Door missed her initial appointment. Though she was angry at first, the swift delivery of a heartfelt apology, and the whimsy and humility of this simple gesture took the edge off. Ms. Watson remains a loyal customer.  What started as a spontaneous gesture by one employee is now a regular part of how Nurse Next Door nurses a customer’s wound from the occasional service failure.


$1,500 Spent on Humble Pie, $100,000 Saved in Business

DeHart estimates that yearly, Nurse Next Door spends about $1,500 on humble pies, but saves around $100,000 in sales. Nurse Next Door has grown to become British Columbia’s largest home healthcare company. “It’s more about keeping clients than a question of whose fault it is. The value of lost clients is very high,” DeHart says. “And satisfied customers share their experience with friends and family.”

Take Action: Can You Bake a Humble Pie?

  • What’s your version of “humble pie”?
  • Are you open enough to consider there are times you’ll need one?
  • How would we rate your ability to identify and acknowledge mistakes?
  • Do customers rave about your humility and recovery from mistakes today?
  • How do your decisions to recover from mistakes compare with this beloved company?
  • Do your apologies earn you “beloved” status today?

2 comments to " Is Your Humility Oven Lit? "

  • This is a great post! In my experience, small businesses or the one’s run by the founders seem to be capable of baking their own pie!

    Every other medium or large enterprise struggle with this. Are you aware of any large organization (maybe outside of zappos or nordstorm) which does service recovery in this fashion? Would love to hear one such story!

  • Love this creative concept. A small investment to keep a customer, I’d say. :)

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