Mistakes are an inevitable part of every service. Even with the most rigorous systems in place, the best companies can’t prevent the occasional late flight, wrong order or delayed delivery. The fact is, in services, often performed in the customer’s presence, errors are inevitable.
While errors in services can’t be entirely eliminated, companies can recover from them such that a disgruntled customer turns into a loyal one. A good recovery can turn a poor customer experience into a win for both, the customer and the company. Sometimes it can create more goodwill than if things had gone smoothly in the first place.
Customer service recovery can be defined as the ability to recover from a mishap with a client, to recover so successfully that you actually may improve relations with that client. This process involves certain steps that are outlined below.
1.Apologize – It is important to acknowledge the customer’s grievance and offer a sincere apology that conveys that you understand their problem and are genuinely sorry for the inconvenience caused. They want to be heard and taken seriously.
2.Review – Go over the complaint with your customers. This is an opportunity to get feedback from the customer and their idea on how it should be fixed. They could provide a solution that is effective and efficient, from their perspective that might not have struck you.
3.Fix and follow up – Fix the problem at the earliest, if that is not possible make sure to follow up with the customer and explain to them the actions being taken to address their grievance. Also, check in with the customer after the problem has been solved to convey concern and appreciation. It shows that you really do care about them.
4.Document the problem in detail, to allow you to permanently fix the defect by identifying trends. Also, you will be better prepared in case the same or similar problem arises in future. Treat it as a useful learning experience that helps in improving your service.
While the above steps guide on what should be done when a service error occurs, the following are a list of Don’ts:
1.Don’t give excuses – A customer places trust in your service, giving excuses about a failed service is not what they want to hear. They will be willing to accept that things go wrong sometimes, but actions taken to fix them are what they are interested in, not excuses.
2.Don’t panic – When dealing with a customer grievance, don’t panic. Address and resolve the issue calmly, remembering that this is an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with the customer. With most customers and in most situations, customers’ sense of trust and amity increases after a problem is successfully resolved, compared to if you had never had the problem in the first place. This make sense, since you now have a shared experience: You have solved something by working closely together.
3.Don’t make assumptions – Don’t assume to know what the customer wants. Ask them instead. Even if the request seems absurd, taking the customer’s view into consideration conveys that you value them and their opinion.
A bit of common sense, empathy and creativity is all it takes to ensure that your service recovery process is a success. Mistakes being unavoidable, it is especially important to know how to turn a customer’s unpleasant experience into a delightful one. Service recovery is a very important aspect of customer retention, as you don’t want to lose a loyal customer because of a service failure. It is easier and more cost
effective to retain existing customers than acquiring new ones.
Thus, it is crucial to have a culture and system in place to handle customer grievances successfully. Also, employees that interact with the customers directly must be trained and empowered to handle complaints that arise, in an effective manner that leaves the customer feeling pleased.
Exceptional service recovery is what separates a great company from an ok one.