“Because of Winn-Dixie” was a 2005 hit movie based on the best-selling novel by Kate DiCamillo. In one scene the movie’s star, 10-year old Opal (played by AnnaSophia Robb) with her new dog Winn-Dixie, visit the local storytelling librarian, Miss Franny. The storyteller spins a tale about her great grandfather who created a candy factory that baked feelings of sadness into a sweet candy he called “Litmus Lozenges.” Miss Franny gave Opal a decorative can of the antique candies to share with her friends. When Opal gave a piece to her seven year old best friend, Sweetie Pie, she put the candy in her mouth and exclaimed, “It tastes like not having a dog.”

Sweetie Pie’s powerful and poignant line got me thinking about customer disappointment. If the sadness of service could be baked into a candy and customers ate a piece, how would they characterize their feelings? And, if a service provider could truly understand the emotions behind their service sadness, how would it alter the response? How might it shape their service recovery?

“It tastes like losing a game to an opponent who cheated?” a customer might say. “It tastes like being turned down by your only best friend?” “It tastes like missing the winning shot of a championship athletic contest.” “It taste like someone carelessly left your best hat out in a hard rain all night.” What can you do to accurately interpret how your customers feel when your service leaves them disappointed? How can you alter your service recovery to make customer sadness quickly disappear?