Service Recovery Code Blue: When a Customer Reports an Injury

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If a customer is injured by one of your products or injured while in your store, you have no guarantee that you’ll be the first to know. The complaint could blow up on Twitter long before you can talk it over with your insurance company or your attorney. Have a plan in place to handle customer injuries no matter how you hear about them. Your plan will vary depending on how you hear about the injury.

What to Say — and What Not to Say

If a customer gets hurt or brings a consumer product complaint directly to you, the most important thing you can do is to give the customer your full attention. Find someone else to handle other demands for a while. The personal injury attorneys at Claims Direct suggest these do’s and don’ts for conversations about customer injuries:

• Do provide help for your customer. Call emergency personnel if needed. If your customer can stand up, offer your arm for support. For minor injuries, offer to call someone who can drive the customer home.

• Don’t say, “We’ll take care of everything.” It’s imperative to appear sympathetic while not offering too much information. For an alleged product defect, say that you’ll refer the complaint to the right person. In the case of onsite injury, let the customer know that you’ll be partnering with your insurance company.

• Do say you’re sorry for what happened. You should say that you’re sorry for what has happened; your customer has experienced pain or inconvenience related to your business. Ask the customer to tell you as much as possible, and ask if you can write down the information for your insurance company.

• Don’t say, “I knew this was a problem.” Instead, if the customer shows you a potential tripping hazard, say, “I’ll have someone take care of this immediately.” However, don’t say, “I’ve been telling Stan to fix this for ages.” If it’s a product defect, ask the customer to show you the defect, and take a picture of it if possible. However, don’t say, “Oh, I see the problem.”

When You Don’t Discover the Injury in Person

You don’t always hear about an injury right after it happens. Sometimes, complaints come in over the phone, via email, or on social media.

Over the Phone: Train your employees to call you or a manager immediately if they receive a phone call about a product defect or in-store hazard. When you take the call, ask the customer for as many details as possible, and take notes. Ask whether the customer has received medical treatment. If the complaint involves a defective product, as the customer for a photo of the product or ask that the customer bring the product to your store so that you can examine it. Apologize, but never admit fault, and partner with your insurer as quickly as possible.

Via Email: When you receive an email complaint, draft a response, and send the response as quickly as possible, but don’t send it until someone in your risk management or legal department approves it. Make sure to Cc your boss (or if you’re the boss, Cc your attorney, insurer, risk management specialist, or other appropriate person) on any correspondence between you and your customer.

On Social Media: Respond quickly before too many people see the complaint. Your response should sound like this: “I’m so sorry that this happened. Please send me a direct message with your contact information so that I can help you.” It’s important to respond to the customer’s concerns as quickly as you can while still running as much by your insurer or your attorney as you can.

Service Recovery

After an injury or product defect complaint, always follow up with your customer. Call your customer the next day to make sure he or she is feeling okay. If you’ve had to escalate a product issue to someone in the company, call to say that you did pass on the concern, and let your customer know what the next steps are.
Finally, if you offer a token, such as cup of coffee, a free product, or a gift card, keep the gesture small. It’s fine to express appreciation for the customer’s continued business, but you don’t want your gesture to suggest that you’re trying to make the complaint disappear or that you’re admitting fault for what happened.

Marcelo Brahimllari
Mediaco
Marcelo Brahimllari works in the digital world and studies everything around marketing - he likes to research & write about business start-ups and their marketing integration.

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