Service Recovery – Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

That may have been true in the 1970 movie “Love Story,” but it is definitely not true in the world of customer service – even if your customers love you.

Just recently I’ve had several clients call to discuss problems they were having with service recovery. While their issues were somewhat complicated, the strategies we discussed were simple and direct.

Here are the seven strategies that can help turn a touchy situation with a customer into a confidence building Moment of Magic®.

When a customer comes to you with a problem (assume it is on the phone, but this applies to any situation), take the following steps:

  1. Apologize for the problem. (See – you do have to say you’re sorry!) It may not be your fault, but at this time, you represent your company. It is now your opportunity to show how good you are.
  2. Acknowledge the problem. Ask the customer to repeat the problem, allowing them to vent. Actively listen. Ask open ended questions to get more information.
  3. Apologize again! If at this time you realize the customer needs to be talking to someone else, do not simply transfer him/her. The proper hand-off is to bring this other person into the conversation so you can explain the problem. Let the customer become part of a three-way conversation. If you do hand off the problem, jump to Strategy Seven.
  4. At this point it is time to move into fixing the problem. Explain how that is going to happen, and go to work to fix it.
  5. Make sure you do all of this with the right attitude.
  6. Create a sense of urgency. Act as quickly as possible.
  7. Stay in touch and/or circle back. Stay in touch with the customer to let him/her know the progress that is being made. When the problem has been resolved, follow up (even if you handed this off to someone else) to ensure the customer is happy and to give closure to the problem.

The strategies are simple, but the execution may not be.

Some problems may take a long time to resolve, while others can be fixed immediately.

Regardless of what the problem is, the above strategies are the basics. The end has to result in more than just a fixed problem. You want the customer to say this:

“I love doing business with them. Even when there is a problem, I can count on them.”

Always remember that service recovery isn’t just about fixing a problem. It is also about the renewal of customer confidence.