When things don’t work out the way you want, turn lemons into lemonade.  It’s important not to miss an opportunity to make it right with the customer.  How important?  Just look at these statistics according to a study conducted by the Research Institute of America:

• 90% of customers who are dissatisfied with service they received will not come back or buy again
• Only 4% of unhappy customers bother to complain.  For every complaint heard, 24 others go uncommunicated to the company, but not to other potential customers
• Of the customers who register a complaint, between 54% and 70% will do business again with the organization if they receive a response to their complaint.  That figure goes up to 95% if the customer feels that the complaint was resolved

So, obviously it pays to have a good service recovery strategy in place!  The key is to be sincere and tailor the response actions to the situation vs. a standard robotic approach; such as always sending a basket of fruit or flowers no matter what the complaint.  This approach requires the employee to think creatively and makes the follow up with the customer more sincere and personal.

Service Recovery Strategies

If the issue is on the low scale of being your company’s fault and you would consider it low on the scale of being a huge problem/inconvenience to the customer, then:  APOLOGIZE
For example: You are at the bank to get some information regarding your account.  The computers are down and the employee has to take a few extra moments to look up your information manually.  Of course computers are supposed to be “up” 100% of the time, but sometimes things happen.  Employee should APOLOGIZE sincerely for the small delay, find the information and thank you for waiting.

The problem is directly caused by your organization, but it is deemed low in seriousness to the customer. APOLOGY/FIX IT+
For example: You are dining at a nice upscale restaurant.  You and your date order a medium rare filet mignon.  Both steaks come out and yours is exactly what you requested, but your date’s is well done. Employee should APOLOGY/FIX IT+ This includes an apology from the waiter and a new steak should be prepared with a freebie given such as a dessert.

This approach is for the issue that is low or of no fault of your organization, but is high on seriousness to the customer in causing hassle, frustration or pain.  Set employees up to become a HERO.
For example:  You’ve just dropped your cell phone into the water and it no longer works.  You are worried about all your contacts being lost.  You go to the cell phone store to see what you can do.  The employee becomes a HERO when she says she has a database of all your contacts/phone numbers in their system and she will be happy to download them for no charge if you have to get a new phone.  She really becomes a SUPERHERO if she has an extra phone like yours that was recently turned in and she gives it to you.

It is obviously the fault of your organization and it is causing a very serious problem for the customer.  The employee should roll out the RED CARPET, which means doing whatever he can to correct the problem and to comfort the customer.
For example:  You and your family have been traveling all day.  Flights have been late and everyone is tired and hungry.  You check-in at hotel where you’ve reserved a room far in advance and are told “hotel overbooked”.  The RED CARPET approach includes an apology, fixing the problem and all bells and whistles, such as calling another hotel, upgrading the room reservation and picking up the tab for a late dinner.

These four approaches can be tailored to any organization.  It is important to identify examples of each in your business, then train and communicate to all employees.  Allow them the opportunity to brainstorm possible follow up approaches.  Great service recovery cannot be underestimated!

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