Customer Experience News & Trends

How to rebound from a service mistake – and keep customers loyal

You messed up, and customer loyalty is on the line … until a service pro swoops in to save the day. Here’s how to rebound from a service mistake like a superhero. 

“It’s simple and not many companies practice the magic of Service Recovery,” says John Tschohl, president and founder of Service Quality Institute. “The magic in service recovery occurs when a frontline employee solves a customer’s problem and does so in 60 seconds or less.”

Tschohl suggests these four steps to recover from a service mistake so you satisfy customers and keep them loyal:

1. Act fast

Acknowledge the mistake within 60 seconds – whether it’s verbally when customers call and report an issue or on your social media pages when you’ve learned there’s a wider-sweeping issue.

“That’s when the magic happens,” Tschohl says. “The employee at the point of contact is the person in the best position to successfully implement service recovery.”

In fact, you usually don’t want to move issues up the chain of command because that costs the organization more time and money, and delays actions, which frustrates customers even more.

“Front-line employees should have the power to resolve more than 95 percent of customer issues without having to pass the customer on to another person,” Tschohl says.

2. Be responsible

Customers don’t care who caused the issue. They care about who will fix it – and how quickly.

Thank customers for pointing out the problem and giving you the opportunity to fix it. Apologize for the mistake and the frustrations it has caused your customer.

3. Be bold

Customer experience leaders want to train front-line employees to handle almost anything customers throw at them, plus give them the power to spend time and money on making it right.

“Employees aren’t making empowered decisions mainly because they’re afraid they’re going to be reprimanded, fired, or have to pay for whatever they give the customer,” Tschohl says. “Empowerment is the backbone of service recovery, and organizations that truly want to serve the customers and retain their business must not only allow, but insist, that employees bend and break the rules in order to keep those customers coming back.”

4. Compensate

Give customers who’ve been wronged something that has high value and low cost. It should “impress the customer and give them the feeling that you really do value their business,” Tschohl says.

Every company’s high-value, low-cost giveaway will be different. Every situation will be different. The key is to align the loss with the gain. For instance, an airline upgrades a displaced passenger to first class, a ski resort gives a free lift ticket to a skier who was stuck on a lift or a computer repair store extends the customer’s warranty by a year.

“It’s the magic of making things right and making things better,” Tschohl says.

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