Service Recovery, Goes Far Beyond Problem Solving!
Customers hope for no problems. Yet problems arise. Nothing is perfect. When they do, customer service recovery is the hot landing zone for success.
To meet customers’ expectations in that zone, we must know what customer service recovery is and build a culture including everyone — not just the front line. Some leaders define service recovery as “resolve the problem”. They apply great resources to it. They are stunned when customers leave despite the problem resolution. They wonder what customer expectations they missed.
Service Recovery Requires Far More Than Problem Solving
Here’s what these leaders missed in defining and delivering service recovery. In addition to solving the problem, we must …
When customers experience trouble, our every move has to show total commitment to them. Ask yourself: What are we committed to? Standard procedures and processes? Organizational structure? Or the customers’ success?
Good sense service recovery: Show commitment to the customers. Give them attention and make it easy for them! In the hot zone, replace routine everyday procedures with full focus on the customers as well as their problems. All the problem solving behind the scenes won’t rebuild trust if we ignore the customers and inflict more pain along the way.
Work With Credibility.
Leaders, credibility hinges on ownership and empowerment. Committed empowered team members with customer service people skills can deliver excellent service recovery. Non-empowered team members will fall short. Why?
Because they can’t convince customers that the organization is owning the problem. They will always seem like smiling gatekeepers not capable customer advocates. During service recovery, this inflames the situation. Customers believe no one cares and nobody is doing anything. They leave with frustration and bad memories.
Good sense service recovery: Empower team members with information. Give them permission to work across departments for credible service recovery. Else customers believe we care more about our company’s structure than we do them. Why should they return and be loyal?
Collaborate and Team Up.
If your business is comprised of structured silos, collaboration and teamwork can be the weak spot in service recovery. You can’t just give permission to an employee to work with another team. The other teams must welcome it and collaborate too.
Good sense service recovery: If the top leader has asked you to lead service recovery improvements for the organization, engage your management and leadership peers. Work together to identify all teamwork obstacles to service recovery. Their teams must all deliver service recovery. These leaders and managers must help craft it.
If your peers resist, it can be a sign that your organization’s commitment to service recovery is painfully weak. Rigid managers who protect their domain are placing internal politics ahead of customer well-being and the company’s success.
Communicate Throughout the Process.
Lack of information and sparse communication kill service recovery. Think of the pain it inflicts on customers. They can’t move on to achieve their goals. They feel helpless, incapable, and even panicky and desperate. It puts them on hold completely. Many think that not knowing is the worst. They see it as the height of selfish uncaring behavior.
Good sense service recovery: There is no excuse for lack of communication. Keep customers informed throughout the process to show them you are owning the problem and working on it. If you have a resolution plan in place to solve some of the bigger problems, communicate it. Solving the problem is not enough.
Show We Care.
How we communicate makes all the difference. Our words and tone of voice either speak our commitment or show we don’t care.
Good sense service recovery: Provide customer service people skills training. It turns everyday communication into professional service recovery skill. Deliver it to all teams not just the front line. How teams speak to each other affects the total effort and the service results. It is the difference between a customer centric culture and a non-empowered front line.
Important Questions from Leaders
In the 25 years I have been consulting and training on service recovery, leaders most often ask:
- Must we do years of work to establish the customer centric culture before we train our teams on service recovery people skills? Answer: You can do it simultaneously. Caring communication is so important that the sooner you do it, the less pain you inflict on customers. The training also helps to create the customer centric culture although training alone can’t do it.
- How do we explain to non-customer facing teams the value of service recovery skills training? Stress that how we think drives our behavior. Service recovery people skills training focuses on mindset, teamwork, and how to communicate with each other — not just with customers.
- How can we ensure team members use what they learn? In the training, use customer situations that actually occur in your company. Engage the team members in the training; don’t just lecture and tell. Model the behavior yourselves. Lastly, ask the team to come up with ways to keep the learning alive. Will they make reminder cards? Will they start each day with one tip from the training? Will they share lessons learned each day? There are many ways. Let them wow themselves, you, and of course the customers!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
Leaders, Can Your Teams Ace This Service Recovery Moment?
Customer Service Recovery, Use People Skills to Deliver vs Defend
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Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
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