No matter how great a product or service a company provides and no matter how carefully they safeguard against faulty products and services, things go wrong: delivery systems fail, component suppliers ship faulty parts, customers use products improperly, or sometimes your delivery capabilities just don't meet the customer expectations set by your marketing messages.
To avoid unnecessary customer defection, companies need to have in place process for dealing with these types of issues. This process is called a Service Recovery Program.
The service recovery paradox is a popular hypothesis, which states that a customer who has a less than satisfactory experience with your product or service, but who receives a high level of attention and compensation for the problem, can actually end up being a more loyal customer than one who never had any problems with the product or service to begin with.
STEP 1: DEFINE THE FAILURE SCENARIOS
The first step of the Service Recovery Program is to list the failure scenarios. For a hotel manager this includes issues like (A comprehensive list should be developed. Here are just a few examples.): Forgetting to clean the room, too cold/warm room temperature, not taking special needs into account (non-smoking, handicap accessibility etc.); too much noise from the bar.
Failure scenarios should include the name, description, responding team/person and messages, channels and compensation if relevant.
STEP 2: DETECT FAILURES BY LISTENING AND ANALYZING
The only way to quickly detect failures is to implement a comprehensive customer listening and feedback analysis service.
This includes feedback channels like event based surveys (e.g. Net Promoter Score process) and spontaneous feedback giving opportunity (through the hotel's tablets / computers, NFC tags, sms number etc.).
An automated analysis system needs to listen to the channels in real-time, detect failures and automatically send an alarm to the person or team defined in the failure scenarios.
STEP 3: REMEDY BY COMMUNICATION AND COMPENSATION
People or teams behind the service recovery scenarios should have clear rules on how to remedy each failure. This should include everything like the messages sent to the customer and compensation (if relevant and appropriate). Often smart, fast and polite communication will take care of the situation.
STEP 4: REPORT TO AVOID FUTURE FAILURES
Report the incident to the management so that pre-emptive action can be taken to avoid such failures in the future.
Your marketing department will love the service recovery program success stories.
Great customer experiences come from human interaction. Admitting failure and correcting it fast is the surest way to a customer's soul. They will love you and share their stories. In most cases correcting a failure is less expensive than losing a loyal customer.
Maybe it makes sense sometimes to fail on purpose just to test the recovery program quality.
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