In today’s digital ecosystem, news can easily spread like wildfire. Bad news tends to spread especially fast throughout the internet and the various social media platforms it hosts. A company that is not careful and swift enough can find all their dirty laundry out in the open for the world to see in under 24 hours.
Unfortunately, there no longer is an ‘if’ when it comes to a public crisis. With how fast news can spread through the internet, it is only a matter of time before a company will be faced with a PR disaster. When such cases occur and customer loyalty is on the line, said company needs to be prepared with a proper plan of action and execute it immediately.
One such contingency plan is having a service recovery strategy ready for frontline employees to follow when customers come knocking.
“It’s simple and not many companies practice the magic of Service Recovery,” says John Tschohl, president and founder of Service Quality Institute. “The magic in service recovery occurs when a frontline employee solves a customer’s problem and does so in 60 seconds or less.”
Tschohl also suggests four steps to recover from a service mistake so that you can satisfy customers and keep them loyal.
Not only do C-level executives need to acknowledge the crisis as soon as possible, frontline employees need to be given the go ahead to do the same as well. Be it through the call centre or through social media, frontline employees need to be empowered to acknowledge the mistake that occurred. The employee at the point of contact is the person in the best position to successfully implement service recovery.
In fact, Tschohl mentions that it is even more advisable for employees to already have solutions on offer, as per an overarching recovery strategy; rather than moving the issue up the chain of command.
“Frontline employees should have the power to resolve more than 95 percent of customer issues without having to pass the customer on to another person,” Tschohl says.
What may come as a surprise to some is that customers do not actually care who caused the problem. What they really care about is who will fix it, and how fast will it take. Employees in contact with customers should express thanks to customers for pointing out and reporting issues, as well as giving the opportunity to fix it. Above all else, apologise for the problems the mistake has caused.
Customer experience leaders want to train frontline employees to handle almost anything customers can throw at them.
“Employees aren’t making empowered decisions mainly because they’re afraid they’re going to be reprimanded, fired, or have to pay for whatever they give the customer,” Tschohl says. “Empowerment is the backbone of service recovery, and organizations that truly want to serve the customers and retain their business must not only allow, but insist, that employees bend and break the rules in order to keep those customers coming back.”
It does not matter how wrong the company is when it makes a mistake. All that matters is that the company “did” make a mistake. As such, the company should give customers who have been wronged a high value but low cost compensation. The goal is to give them the feeling that the company values their business.
Ever company’s high-value, low-cost giveaway will be different. So is every situation. The key is to align the loss with the gain. Making the effort to make things right with appropriate compensation will go a long way in re-establishing trust with the customer base.