Implementing a distinct service recovery process (we call it the React process) is a very important part of successful transactional customer feedback implementation.
What is Service Recovery?
Service recovery occurs when your normal business operations fail a customer in some way and you must intervene to resolve the customer issue. Perhaps you missed a deadline or they were provided with the wrong information or even delivered the wrong product or services. In these situations how you recover from the error is critical in winning back the customer’s loyalty.
There is even research that indicates that customers who have a problem and have it resolved quickly and appropriately are more loyal than customers who have never had a problem in the first place. It almost makes you want to fail in some small way just to recover in an outstanding way and generate that additional level of loyalty, but that’s probably not a good idea!
In the transactional customer feedback realm the react process can generate high levels of employee engagement and builds organization stories that really help the long term implementation success. And of course they fix customer problems when they occur and drive up customer loyalty.
Here are two best practice approaches that we see companies implementing.
1. Add a “Please contact me to follow-up on my response” question to your survey
Typically this is added as a tick box or a yes/no question at the end of the survey document itself.
You will find that happy and unhappy customers, or Promoters, Neutrals and Detractors in Net Promoter surveys, will all make use of this box. For unhappy customers you can use this question to kick start a process to reverse their perceptions but for happy customers it is often a sales opportunity.
Occasionally when we implement this question clients ask whether it would be better to just leave it out and contact all low scorers. Initially that can be a good idea (see Outbound contact customers at or below a specific score) but long term we recommend against this because putting the question in allows you to follow-up Promoters as well.
In responding to this question there are just six scenarios:
- A customer gives a low score and selects Yes: Then you should call them and start your react process to resolve their issue.
- A customer gives a low score and selects No: This is disappointing but you know what they want you to do and you should respect that. At least you tried. In reality there are very few of these responses.
- A customer gives a low score and does not make a selection: You can still call them if you think it is useful.
- A customer gives a high score and selects Yes: This is someone you would not have called but now you know they want you to call: bonus. Often there are additional sales involved in this call as well: double bonus.
- A customer gives a high score and selects No: you were not going to call them on this survey and that’s fine: no change.
- A customer gives a high score and does not make a selection: You can still call them if you want to
So it’s really only scenario 2 that is at odds with what you want, but it’s what the customer wants. Plus in practice 2. does not happen very often so it’s a small loss for the upside of 4.
Also this question drives automated service recovery which means you get scenario 4. as a feature. If you don’t have it then customers will have no easy way to ask you to contact them.
2. Outbound contact customers at or below a specific score
This is a good way to start that service recovery process because you can throttle the number of respondents that you action without them knowing it.
Consider what will happen if you give respondents the opportunity to request a contact and you don’t action that quickly and efficiently. You will have increased their expectations and then failed to deliver. This is a very negative outcome, especially if they are already a Detractor.
Starting out by leaving off the questions allows you to build your process carefully and test it out before you go public.
When you are happy that you have the right staffing and support in place to quickly and efficiently respond to feedback requests you can add the question.
Critical success factors for the React process
The three most important actions in implementing this approach are:
- Create a conscious service recovery (we call it React) process. This must be a planned process that is part of your day to day operations.
- Test the process on low scorers (as noted above). In this way you can test and correct your process in a controlled and low volume environment without the added pressure of having to respond to everyone that requests it.
- Step up and add the “please contact me” box. When you go live on this box make sure that you prioritize these people in your service recovery process. You need to get back to them quickly: the same day ideally. If you do not respond to them or do so too slowly you will turn a bad situation (a 1 or 2) into a zero and confirm their low opinion of you long term.
On the other hand if you manage the service recovery process well you can turn a Detractor into a Promoter for life. We’ve seen this happen at our clients.
So have you implemented the React process? Please share your successes in the comments below.By Adam Ramshaw