Six steps to service recoveryNancy Friedmanrespond rapidly, take ownership, apologize
Solve the problem, manage the feelings
In this day and age, when customer service is on everyone's mind,
it's difficult when it all hits the fan. What do you do when it's
no longer just an irate customer--when it's beyond angry? How do
you handle the situation? What can you do to save the account,
relationship and business? Well, here, direct from the Telephone
Doctor library, is our new program on service recovery.
We have identified six steps of service recovery to help you and
your company save the account, relationship and business.
This is not the time to put the call/problem on the back burner.
The longer you wait to handle the situation, the worse it will
become. Remember, delay increases anger.
The customer doesn't care if you're new, if you weren't there the
day his problem started or if you don't know anything about it. He
wants you to take ownership of the problem and the situation. It is
your responsibility. Don't shift the blame.
That means no "sorry 'bout that," which is a cliche, not an
apology. The customer needs to hear the word "apologize." And he
needs to hear that you mean it.
Solve the problem
It's that old 80-20 rule--80 percent of the time, the problem will
be easy to solve. It's the next step that is the real problem.
Manage the feelings
This is the heart of service recovery--the feelings. They've been
hurt. It doesn't matter if it was intentional or unintentional.
What matters is that the customer feels maligned, and we need to
spend time on those feelings. We'll probably spend more time on the
feelings than we did on the problem, but it's a key step in service
In so many cases, if handled properly, all is well--we hope. Well,
how do we know? We simply ask! Yes, it's that simple. We ask, "Have
I done a good job for you, Mr. Smith?" or, "Mrs. Jones, has
everything been handled to your satisfaction?" We need to let the
customer know we value his business. We also may need to do or give
something extra if we can to help the situation along. We need to
do something the customer is totally not expecting--something that
will say he's appreciated. Each industry has its own appreciation
threshold. It doesn't necessarily need to be expensive. It just
needs to be.
Service recovery is special. You see, good customer service is
expected. That's nothing new or special. You're supposed to give
good customer service. What's the big deal? But when stuff hits the
fan and that one customer is beyond irate, that's when service
recovery kicks into gear. Good luck!
Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor Customer
Service Training in St. Louis. For more information, call (314)