In Part 1, we identified and defined service recovery. As we take the next step to put in place a solid service recovery process in our organization, individuals must first understand the steps to take in the successful execution of service recovery.

  1. Apologize – Apologize for the mistake or error that had transpired but make sure it is sincere. Without the proper empathetic stimuli in place, the customer will consider it condescending and will react worse for it, losing them forever.
  2. Solution – Provide a solution or the best alternative. From the front-line service professional perspective, there isn’t always a solution that can be provided given how organizations are so scrupulous about following processes. The ability to creatively problem solve is required here to provide the customer with a viable alternative solution.
  3. Value-add – What can you provide the customer additionally to delight them? Different businesses have different ways of value-adding in the service recovery process. What can your organization offer that costs little to nothing but is of big value to the customer? From my experience, simple gestures like a offering free dessert at a restaurant after messing up my order or giving me free talk time when my Telco overcharges me or upgrading my insurance coverage when my insurance company accidentally cancels my insurance policy. Ensure these tools are in place and available as arsenal for service personnel to use as a powerful service recovery tactics.
  4. Analyze – Conduct an analysis of what happened and what can be corrected so it won’t happen again. Many times organizations put service recovery processes in place but forget to uncover the source of the error in the first place. Analyze frequent issues that are creating disgruntled customers. What is the cause of these potentially fatal errors? Can a process be improved? Is there an additional step that can be included into a process? Could this be a frequent customer error, meaning there is lack of customer education? Thorough analyses have proved to be the “the missing piece of puzzle” in extending the customer life-cycle in the many organizations that I have had the privilege of working with.

The service recovery component in superior service delivery not only needs to be part of the company culture but part of the company DNA. Top-down internalization of the importance of service recovery is essential to drive superior customer service.

When was the last time your CEO met, listened, resolved and walked an unhappy customer to his or her car? I’ve witnessed that, have you?

Ken Ng
CEO/Senior Managing Consultant