Customer Service Recovery II

Even the most successful and highly rated in customer service companies, are bound to make mistakes. It is a given and even customers understand that. But how companies deal with these failures and swing in to service recovery mode is what defines success or failure. Customer Service Recovery is just 3 simple words that are very often undermined even by the people leading the organization. Service recovery is the best opportunity a company has in raising trust levels and building customer loyalty and so must be treated with that degree of importance. Putting in every effort to recover from an error and solving the customer’s problem in the fastest time possible is what spells Service Recovery. When you deliver outstanding Customer Service Recovery a customer is wowed enough to spread the word about it. This will be your cheapest yet most effective advertising campaign and you should be ready to handle the flood of business you receive post that. “There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance. Miss that moment – and you start to decline – Andy Grove” This point is possibly the opportunity for service recovery.

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It’s just smart to do the right things. You are very likely to save huge amounts of money on advertising and promotions if you were to just focus on providing Customer Service Recovery that pushes your customer to speak well of you.

– If even your grass-root level customer service staff is well versed in service recovery, you would be able to solve the customer’s problems almost immediately. It saves valuable time for the company and your customer and earns his trust and loyalty. For your company it also translates to cost saving since there will be no requirement to scale the escalation matrix. The higher a complaint goes, the costlier it gets. Your customer service teams must be trained to act swiftly to create the magic of Customer Service Recovery.

– A failure in service is everyone’s responsibility. Inculcate the culture of taking onus and any time there is a lapse, your customer service team will stand tall, recognize the problem and take every measure to rectify it. No one in the company should feel that since they didn’t cause the problem, they are not accountable. Customer Service Recovery is everyone’s responsibility.

– Discretion and empowerment are two fundamentals for achieving great customer service recovery. Each and every customer service team member must be empowered to take spot decisions to sort out the customer’s issue in the shortest possible time. Such decisions must be applauded and rewarded.

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– When there is a service lapse, it is imperative that your company not only rectifies it but also adds value to the service recovery. A friend working as an Administration Manager was responsible to get the best quotes and service from hotels and other vendors. He was also the decision maker on who stays where and which vendors to use. On one particular trip, he was staying at a reputed 5 Star Hotel. His sound sleep was rudely disturbed at 1am by a rather loud alarm set on the bedside alarm clock. Sleepy and shaken he called up the Front Desk and informed them of the same and went back to sleep. Not the kind of person to create a fuss he didn’t plan to talk about it the next day since the apology from the Front Desk sufficed. However, by 6am he received – 3 handwritten apology notes (The Front Desk Manager, The Hotel’s General Manager and The Executive Housekeeper). This to him seemed like a great way to service recovery. A while later he received a box of chocolates and an upgraded room. You can easily guess what this man’s recommendation was. This was Service Recovery at its best. Compensating your customer will not cost you much but will still be seen as very valuable from the customer’s point of view. In the case mentioned, this friend was already receiving great customer service but the extent to which the hotel went to recover a small service lapse made all the difference.

– Having a customer focused business plan will largely reduce the possibility of service lapses. However, even if there is an instance of failure, even the service recovery should be completely customer centric. In the example mentioned, had the hotel viewed their 5 Star status as being enough to keep them in business they would have probably just let it be with a cursory apology. However, they kept the focus on the inconvenience experienced by their guest at an unearthly hour due to what was a complete service oversight on their part. The customer focus shown by this hotel was the reason it was chosen for business for a 3 year long contract period and this manager still talks about the great service recovery.

– Mapping and keeping accurate records of the kinds and number of service lapses will allow your company to reduce these instances. It will be easier to understand customer expectations and use their feedback more effectively. Also having details and history will empower your front ending staff to better deal with customers in case of a service lapse. Staff will be in a better position to anticipate needs and problems and can be pro-active in responding. The reduced response time and knowledge of the matter will show the customers that you are genuinely interested in getting their loyalty.

– Share all the customer data and feedback you receive with everyone in the organization. Announce any changes that are to be made to accommodate the customer’s needs. Getting buy-in and agreement from your employees will make it easier for you to implement any changes. It could be a change in working hours or working patterns. When employees feel like they are part of the change, they will contribute better and will ensure that service and its recovery is of a high standard.

Just like great customer service, top notch service recovery too leads to service excellence. Irrespective of size, years in business and repute every company is bound to have service lapses. The manner of recovering these service lapse is what will keep a company’s reputation at a pinnacle. It is one of the best ways to gaining customer loyalty and will have them sing your praises using every means possible. Sometimes a service lapse and its great recovery is the best way to solidify customer loyalty. Strange as it sounds, this is the Service Recovery Paradox. It states that even if the customer has been receiving consistent good customer service, he or she is probably unlikely to speak about it or even notice it as being extraordinary. However, when even a tiny lapse occurs and it is dealt with efficiently and effectively, he or she is more likely to trust your company and talk well about you. It leaves the customer feeling more satisfied and inclined towards your company than if the service lapse and recovery had never happened.

Extending your company’s services to the greatest possible extent to recover a lapse gives customers a feeling of enhanced satisfaction and importance. Creating this culture of service and service recovery excellence is the two-edged sword that will chop down your competition. Service recovery is too powerful to ignore and must be given as much importance as great service. When a customer can easily perceive that your company cares about his or her convenience and resolution of problems, they will stand by your company during these lapses. They are likely to be more understanding, patient and loyal when they receive outstanding service recovery. Great Customer Service Recovery, builds confidence and trust in a customer since they know that even if a lapse were to happen, your company will immediately make it right. This future assurance is what will keep customers coming back for more and referring your company to others. We all know that negative situations have greater impacts on us but if the negative is countered by an even more powerful positive, we are unlikely to remember it. This is true of service recovery as well. It is that powerful positive impact that will leave an indelible mark on your customer leading to loyalty.

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