Recover from a Service Blunder in 7 Simple Steps

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If you’ve been in a customer service role before, you will know the unfortunate (but not uncommon) experience of encountering a customer who is less than pleased. Or, perhaps you’ve had a situation where you’ve not handled things quite as well as you would have liked. Regardless of the specific circumstances, these scenarios are not pleasant to experience, and sometimes they’re not even your fault. These situations might feel personal, but they’re more often than not entirely unrelated to you specifically.

No matter the details, you’re the person who must take action to recover the situation with that customer. Luckily, the Telephone Doctor has a 7-step approach to service recovery that will help you to turn the situation around.

  1. First, even though it probably doesn’t feel like you’re to blame, it’s your job to take responsibility. You’ve answered the phone as a representative of your organization, therefore, to the customer, you have accepted responsibility on the company’s behalf. Shift your mindset from “But it’s not my fault!” to “What can I do for the customer?”
  2. Next, apologize and do so genuinely. You might think an apology isn’t needed since the issue wasn’t your fault – but, again, you’re acting on behalf of your company, so apologize on their behalf, too. An apology won’t fix the problem, but it does help to defuse the situation as the customer hears you take responsibility.
  3. After you’ve apologized, offer the customer some empathy. The customer will want to feel as though you understand why they’re upset. Rather than saying something like “I know how you feel” (which might not be true if you’ve never been in their shoes), go for a phrase like “That seems very frustrating” or “I can understand why that would be upsetting.”
  4. Once you’ve offered empathy and an apology, it’s time to take immediate action. If the resolution requires you to send a physical item, you should ensure that this is done hastily – with overnight delivery if possible. Ensure that whatever action you take is sufficient to fix it completely during that first interaction, too. As the Telephone Doctor says, it should never take two people to give good customer service. Solve the problem the first time.
  5. When you’re working to solve the problem, don’t underestimate the impact of asking the customer what resolution would make them happy. It might feel as though you’ve tried every solution you can think of, and the customer is being extra difficult. In those cases, simply ask the customer: “What can I do to make you happy, Mr. Jones?” In most cases, the request won’t be as outrageous as you might think. In fact, it might just be a solution you’ve not thought of yet.
  6. Understand that Service Recovery goes beyond simply fixing the problem. Service Recovery entails ensuring that the problem won’t happen again. It also involves repairing the relationship with the customer by listening to them and going above and beyond in response.
  7. Finally, even after you feel that you’ve sufficiently fixed the problem, follow up with the customer to make sure that is true. It’s a good practice to call the customer a day or so after you’ve resolved the issue and ask them outright: “Have we fixed everything for you?” and “What else can we do for you?” This line of questioning will help you ensure that they are fully satisfied. You’ll know you’ve achieved Service Recovery when the customer replies: “Thanks, you’ve done a great job.”

To learn more about Service Recovery, contact a ServiceSkills representative today and request a free demo of one of the courses from the Telephone Doctor Customer Service Collection.