Service Recovery After a Failure

By Cindy Campbell

Let’s face it: Poor service will occasionally happen. That’s a reality.

We work in an industry that can suffer from both real and perceived service failures. A service failure can be defined as any service performance that fails to meet a customer’s expectations. While we cannot always meet our customers’ expectations, our goal should be to try and do what we can to meet their needs (not to be confused with their wants).

So, what happens when we have a service failure? Do we throw up our hands and say, “This is a thankless job and there’s just no pleasing some people?” While that may be true at times, we still have an opportunity to have a positive effect. For the sake of the relationship with the customer, our efforts can be directed toward recovering from what they perceived as a negative contact.

In their employee training program, the Walt Disney Company talks about the concept of service recovery. Cast members are provided with this insight: “The heart of service recovery is to pursue the reconciliation of the relationship, not just the resolution of the issue.” Employees are empowered to believe that the relationship with the customer is more important than the immediate issue.

Considering our challenging service environment, it’s important to understand that we can still achieve the goal of delivering exceptional service even when the issue has been perceived as a failure by the customer. How are we empowering our teams to accomplish this goal?

Cindy Campbell is IPI’s senior training and development specialist.

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