Well saved! 6 steps to service recovery

Success as a business comes in your ability to provide first rate service, but what happens when something goes wrong?

The service provider is always playing a game of catch up with their product distributing friends. They watch enviously as the products ping off the production line, each (usually!) as perfectly exact as the next and their ever-present goal is to create a similar excellent level of consistency in the meals that they serve, in the holidays that they offer, in the hotel stays that they provide.

Services are produced by people and this offers unrivalled opportunities for the creation of competitive advantage through outstanding customer experience, but conversely as they are produced by people it is almost guaranteed that, on occasion, service failures will happen. And when it does, are you ready to make the save? Here are our 6 steps to service recovery:

1) The zone

A customer’s zone of tolerance is the area between their ideal and adequate service, and while all customers will have a zone of tolerance (some smaller than others) it is important not to take advantage of this as over time this tolerance will erode. Additionally, staff who are able to identify customers that are still within the zone but nonetheless not as happy as they could be, can initiative service recovery before it reaches crisis level.

2) A planned system

Service recovery should be a planned, controlled aspect of your service delivery system rather than a haphazard add on. Staff need to be trained to not only identify areas for possible service recovery but to implement and be confident in its delivery.

3) Know your ‘fail’ areas

In any service setting there tend to be similar potential ‘fail’ areas like at check in, or when a meal has just been delivered to the table for example. These are the crucial interactions between service provider and customer and looking for feedback and reactions at these points helps providers to establish customer satisfaction.

4) Reliability

A key ingredient for happy customers is reliability in delivering the service, and when this fails, this means demonstrating reliability in putting things right. Whether you’re offering a refund, a return or a repeat of the service, ensure that you do what you have said you will do, when you said you would do it.

5) Look at involvement

If you’re delivering high involvement services like a spa break or a luxurious train journey then service recovery (or the ability to provide it) will be even more vital. Expectations will be higher for the service, the investment is greater and the stakes for all involved rocket. Remember though that involvement varies person to person, and what is a fairly routine service encounter for one person can be unusual and highly involved for another.

6) Look at intangible compensation too

In service recovery, the tangible elements of a refund or a complementary return visit are important but so too are the intangible or psychological elements as expressed through a staff member’s attention to the issue, alongside their genuine apology for the service dip.

Overall, customers are becoming less tolerant of service lapses so it is more important than ever to have a consistent, considered approach to service recovery. Do it well and you can triple customer intentions to return and keep those potential defectors loyal.

To learn more about how to deal with service recovery and handle complaints effectively go to the Luxury Academy Dealing with Demanding Clients one day training course.