service recovery

How to Implement Best Practice Service Recovery

Download: How to design & implement a Service Recovery process

Implementing a distinct service recovery process (we call it the React process) is a very important part of successful transactional customer feedback implementation.

It is important because transactional customer feedback typically occurs around a service interaction. When respondents have an issue around the transaction in question the organisation has an opportunity to trigger a targeted service recovery process.

This has an amazing effect on the customer and the business.

The client is amazed that someone responded to their feedback.

The business can turn detractors into amazed promoters.

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 also generate high levels of employee engagement and creates organizational stories that help drive the long term implementation success.

And of course they fix customer problems when they occur and drive up customer loyalty.

There Are Two Best Practice Approaches

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 and 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 but long term we recommend against this because putting the question in allows you to follow-up Promoters as well.

There are very few downsides to putting this question into your feedback survey. Let’s look at each of the scenarios that might occur to see what they are:

TickLow ScoreHigh Score
Ticks YesCall them and start your react process to resolve their issue!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.
Ticks NoDisappointing 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.
You were not going to call them on this survey and that’s fine: no change.
No TickYou should probably call them and commence the service recovery process.You can still call them if you think it is useful.

So it’s really only scenario 2 (low score, ticks no) that is at odds with what you want, but it’s what the customer wants. Plus, in practice this does not happen very often so it’s a small loss for the upside of scenario 4 (high score, ticks yes).

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 initially run the 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 “please contact me” question 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

Create a conscious service recovery process

Spend some time planning exactly how your service recovery process will operate. Make sure you answer these questions at least:

  • Who will be responsible
  • What will they do
  • How will actions be recorded
  • What will be measured

Test the Process On a Small Scale

Before ramping up to full production, test your service recovery process on small numbers of survey respondents.

That will allow you to iron the kinks out of the process before going full scale. You can test and correct your process in a controlled and low volume environment without the added pressure of having to respond quickly to everyone that requests support.

Step up: Add the “please contact me” Box.

When you go live on this box prioritize these respondents 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.

Measure and Report on The Value

All this service recovery costs real money: staff need to make calls to customers, take actions, resolve issues. This costs the organisation.

For the whole process to be of valuable the benefits must outweigh the costs. So do some analysis of the value that it generates. Estimate the value of the intervention, even an approximate value is better than no value at all.

After doing this analysis one of our customers determined that the revenue benefit of this process far outweighed the cost. Then it was easy to get management support to grow the service recovery team.

Another client could not work out why 0s, 1s, and 2s (on the “would recommend” question) were more valuable than 3s and 4s. That was until someone realised that the 0,1,2s were receiving service recovery calls but the 3s and 4s were not.

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