Failure is unavoidable. Service Recovery is mandatory.

Not matter how rehearsed and optimized your sales and support processes and operations are, there will be the occasional lapse in service delivery. The best restaurant is going to burn a meal or a six-star hotel may still mess up a reservation. While it is important to ensure people and processes minimize such errors, the solution is how empowered your people are to recover successfully from these errors. In fact, a successful recovery may have a more positive impact on your brand than a regular interaction well done.

Lego is a key recognizable brand that is highly successful. Do they have service failures? Definitely. For myself, as an adult fan of the toys, it’s obvious my son will grow up with them. Inevitably, something breaks or a piece goes missing. A four-year-old doesn’t really understand when something is missing so I contacted their support who directs me to a specific website link for broken or missing pieces. I took me all of 5 minutes to key in the set number, select the missing parts and put in my address and email address. They promise to contact me in 2 days. Sure enough, I get an email apologizing for the problem, and that they’ll ship me the parts free as soon as possible. A week later, an envelope arrived with the missing pieces together with a personalized letter to my son. Was the brand negatively impacted? A little but the recovery went a long way – in fact, I tell this story whenever I try to illustrate how a successful recovery helps a brand.

Recently, Malaysia Airlines was in a spot due to their treatment for a wheelchair bound passenger. In today’s digital era, that story and experience went viral on social media. Many did not expect much to happen, even after the open letter to the CEO of the airline. The CEO not only responded but invited him for a personal meeting which an apology was followed up by serious commitment to address the issues that included short and long term process improvement steps. You can read the entire encounter via this link (note the link will take out out of Brandt International’s website). I think you would agree that it was an impressive service recovery. Whether those steps will be done is for another time but we can also get three key elements that make a successful service recovery.

  1. Be humble – apologize for the mistake. That lowers the customers’ anger and makes them more willing to listen to you.
  2. Discover – how the problem arose in the first place is crucial to ensure it doesn’t  repeat. This is important because some gaps are not immediately identifiable by the organization.
  3. Commitment – Fixing the problem is important to the customer so concrete steps must be made and agreed upon by the customer.

In the end, the battle for market share cannot be won from analyzing trends, ratings, or even NPS scored but by making customers happy one at a time. So, it’s imperative that organizations make it a point to ensure that everyone in the organization has the training and  authority to make service recovery happen.

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