In any business, there are times when there is a lapse in customer service leading to an irate call or customer interaction. The bad customer experience (CX) could be due to many reasons – external as well as internal. For instance, late delivery due to bad weather or system breakdown because of a technical glitch. These incidents are like an occupational hazard, especially if you are working in the service industry.
But, does that mean we just accept it as it is? No. We focus on service recovery. These moments of service gaps can be great opportunities to build relationships with the customers and create a positive brand image. Businesses usually focus on providing a great customer experience in the first go, but, a successful brand is the one which bounces back with a much stronger service recovery strategy.
Why is Service Recovery Important?
We have talked about making a strong comeback after a failed service experience, but the question remains, why do we need service recovery. According to a study done for the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, in households with service problems with potential costs of more than $100, 54% would maintain brand loyalty if their problems were satisfactorily resolved. Only 19% would repeat their purchase if they were unhappy with the problem resolution. For less expensive problems ($1 to $5), 70% would maintain brand loyalty if their problems were resolved satisfactorily; only 46% would repurchase if the problem wasn’t fixed.
Thus, businesses should emphasize great service recovery primarily to ensure customer satisfaction, encourage brand loyalty and creating positive CX memories. Following are some of the techniques or strategies that brands can implement for delivering a great service recovery.
Acknowledge and Apologise
Acknowledge the problem and take responsibility. Don’t try to be defensive. Sometimes, employees tend to pass on the blame to someone else or give an ambiguous reply. This can make a bad situation worse and can come across as arrogance and lack of unity on the part of the brand. After that, apologize. A true apology and not some pretentious “I understand your problem.” A sorry might not resolve the issue, but you will be surprised at the magical effect a simple apology can have in pacifying the customer. Be empathetic and walk the customers through all the possible actions you will take to rectify the situation at the earliest.
Review the Complaint with Customer
Go through the problem with the customer so that you don’t miss out on anything. Let the customer be your customer service consultant. Ask them their views on possible solutions to the problem. This way, the customer will feel a lot more engaged and valued. Understand, do not brush away a complaint as being trivial. For the customer, in that moment, it could be the biggest problem. Thus, sooner you solve it the more satisfied the customer will be.
Prompt Action and Follow Up
In the times of omnichannel, it doesn’t matter which channel the customer uses to expresses their dissatisfaction (Eg, social media, call, email, etc.). Brands need to act quickly. Do not make the customer wait. Do whatever you can to solve the problem on the spot. One way of doing that is by ensuring that there are no long chains to get a problem resolved. The longer the customer waits, the more strain it puts on the business-customer relationship. Ideally, one person should be able to resolve the problem, rather than involving many people.
In case there is a delay, follow up with the customer to inform them of the steps you have already taken and the way forward. Explain to them the reason for the hold-up. Also, when the problem is resolved, close the communication loop. Inform the customer. It makes them feel like the part of quality control. If it’s something that can’t be fixed, explain why.
Document the Problem
Record the bad service experience in detail. This should be done as soon as the issue is closed because, with the passage of time, memory might fade. Training the employees to efficiently document the journey will later help in analysis. The major goal of doing that is to identify the patterns and recognize the underlying causes. A meticulously recorded report of the incidents will ensure a thorough analysis of the situation to avoid recurrence of service gaps in the future.
Train and Empower the Employees
The front end employees are the ones to directly interact with the customers and are the first ones to know the problem. They need to be trained in handling a bad CX. For instance, role play can an effective technique to learn recovery skills. But, care should be given in aligning training with the organizational goals, rather than being very task-specific to avoid tunnel vision.
Apart from that, organizations should empower them to take a customer-centric decision. That is, give them the authority, responsibility, and access to resources to attend to customer needs. When such behavior is displayed, it should be recognized and incentivized.
Businesses should use the customer recovery as an opportunity to break the silence between an organization and the customers. A dissatisfied, vocal customer is the best source of insight for future improvements. If the organization is successfully able to turn the nightmare of bad customer experience into a memorable CX memory, they will gain a loyal customer for life.