While at a hotel, getting ready for a crucial business meeting, you turn on the hairdryer, but the power goes out. You call the service number and hear "Someone is on the way." After twenty minutes and two more calls, anxiety turns to anger, when a "service" person asks, "What do you want me to do about it?" Finally, the power comes back on, and a maintenance man explains it wasn't his fault and makes excuses about what went wrong internally. No one acknowledges or apologizes for your inconvenience.
|Brian A Jackson | iStockphoto|
"If you don't have well-developed service recovery techniques in place, you'll lose the customer every time," she says. That leads to angry customers vowing never to return—and maybe decide to share their anger with countless others online.”
Kuzmeski offers these tips for service recovery:
1. Recognize and truly understand your customer's situation. Provide individual care. People with children have very different needs from busy businesspeople. Train your customer service people to recognize key differences and adjust responses accordingly.
2. Make sure what you're saying is happening is really happening. Customer service is more than following a script. "When the hotel guest made the second call, it's likely the front desk representative didn't check to see where the maintenance man was," says Kuzmeski. "Taking the time to locate him would have gotten the guest the service she needed."
3. Be specific about how the problem will be handled. Let the customer know what will happen and when. The more information customers have, the less anxious they feel.
4. Complaint number two is an emergency. Most people can forgive one mistake, if it’s addressed promptly. A second complaint calls for emergency mode. If you want to keep your customer, you must take care of the problem immediately.
5. Make sure the service philosophy permeates the business from top to bottom. The hotel in the anecdote is part of a chain with a rewards program for repeat customers. When the guest called to complain, the rewards people understood the inconvenience and tried to make it up to her by offering additional rewards points. "They hadn't properly trained their onsite staff,” Kuzmeski says. It’s crucial that everyone understand the customer service plan and be able to solve problems.
6. Don't assume customers will give you a second chance. If a customer takes the time to call you about a problem, you are lucky. You don't always get a chance to make it right. Often, customers just move on. And the real concern is that it takes only one dissatisfied customer to create a public relations disaster. Dissatisfied customers have created blogs and YouTube videos sharing their tales of bad service with the world.
Kuzmeski says customer loyalty is achievable, “but you have to have the service chops to take care of them. Make your customers and your relationships with them a priority—always! When you do so, you can create clients for life."