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. Respond rapidly 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. Take ownership 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. Apologize sincerely 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 recovery. Verify satisfaction 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) 291-1012.
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