I know from personal experience that mistakes will happen when servicing customers. Providing the wrong information, delivering the wrong goods or perhaps even charging the wrong amount for services can sometimes happen because of the people factor involved. It’s simple – we’re human and we can make mistakes! The key is to determine what one must do to right the situation while at the same time preserving the relationship between the customer and your organization. Here are a few steps that are critical to regaining the customer’s trust.
Acknowledge the Error – The first part of service recovery is to acknowledge that the customer’s expectation of having a great customer experience has not been met. During the customer’s explanation of what has gone wrong from their perspective, make sure to listen intently for the issue. If verification is needed, do this as quickly as possible to show the customer that you too are concerned about the situation. Once you have in fact determined that an error has occurred, acknowledge and apologize as these two go hand in hand in attempting to regain your customer’s trust. It’s been my own experience that once customers feel heard and their situation acknowledged, their anguish level is lowered significantly.
Here’s What We’ll Do – When attempting to preserve the relationship with customers after an error, correcting the situation in a timely manner will score lots of recovery points. The longer it takes to develop and then provide a resolution, the lower your possibility of retaining the impacted customer. Make sure your customer facing employees have options for quickly resolving issues in order to increase the chances of recovering and retaining customers. Get the customer’s buy-in with the proposed resolution. Doing so helps in getting the situation resolved as the customer feels you made them a participant in developing a satisfactory resolution. Most customers understand that mistakes can and do happen. Don’t take that understanding attitude for granted. Promptly make the customer whole if retention is your goal.
Recently a friend offered a story of how the wrong piece of furniture was delivered twice to her residence. After the second error, she called the store and just by chance the owner answered the phone. After explaining the situation, the store owner advised my friend that he would have the correct piece sent out the same day and reimburse her the amount she paid for the piece. While one may not be in a position to offer quite the same resolution as this store owner, imagine how my friend felt about getting the piece for free. Did the store have to go to such lengths to correct the mistake? My friend stated that she just wanted to get the correct piece – she did not anticipate or expect to get it for free. This store will be where she goes for furniture forever!
Are You Still in Love With Us? – After applying the resolution, I suggest that someone follow-up with the customer, if possible, to verify or “take the customer’s temperature” regarding their satisfaction level. The goal is to determine if the customer will continue to purchase goods or services. This step might be the one to win the customer over after the resolution. Questions such as “How satisfied are you with the resolution?” “How likely are you to make a purchase with us in the future?” or “If you could rate our ability to resolve this situation to your satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10, where would we rate?” The answers to these questions can help to gauge the effectiveness of your service recovery actions. If yours is an organization where customers make frequent purchases, monitor their accounts for continued activity and or changes in purchasing patterns as these will be true indicators of your customer’s attitude toward your organization.
Service recovery is important to sustaining a solid business reputation. While mistakes do happen, the customer is depending upon you to quickly correct the situation. It’s important to Acknowledge the Error, determine Here’s What We Will Do to correct the situation and get the customer’s buy-in, then determine Are You Still in Love With Us? by following up to determine if your customer is likely to make future purchases with your organization. Earn back your customer’s trust with these simple steps.