Customer Service Failure – How to Recover

“Most of your competition spend their days looking forward to those rare moments when everything goes right. Imagine how much leverage you have if you spend your time maximizing those common moments when it doesn’t.”

Seth Godin, American Entrepreneur, Author and Public Speaker

Unfortunately, customer service failures are bound to happen, even when you genuinely strive to provide exceptional service. We are human and we make mistakes. Organizations spend a lot of time and resources training employees on ways to deliver excellent customer service, but what happens when someone in the organization fails to do that? How do we recover from a poor service moment? Understanding how to recover when a service failure occurs is just as critical as knowing what outstanding customer service is and how to deliver it.

When a customer service failure does occur, here are a few practical ways to recover:

  1. Remember that the customer is a human with needs, wants, and emotions.
    When a customer service failure occurs, the person’s emotions will be heightened. Remember to see the person, not just the issue, and to acknowledge the emotion that the customer is experiencing. This will show that you truly care about what caused the customer to be unhappy or upset. This is will also help you to begin to gain insight on how the service failure occurred.
  2. Listen with intention.
    We have all heard the saying “We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.” In a customer service failure, it’s best to listen to the customer rather than talk or try to rush the matter to move on. No matter what we know about the situation, we need to give customers the chance to truly be able to tell their story. We need to remember to not take it personally. The goal in listening with intention is to understand the customer’s concern, and start figuring out a solution.
  3. Be empathetic.
    Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and consider the situation from their point of view. Not only do we need to acknowledge the customer’s emotions as stated above, we also need to empathize and connect with that customer’s emotions. If we are able to express our willingness to help the customer and our commitment to fulfill the customer’s needs if possible, it shows that we truly care about them. Some sayings that will show the customer empathy are:
    “I understand how you must feel…”
    “If I were in your shoes…”
    “Anyone would find this difficult…”
  4. Apologize.
    After understanding the service failure from the lens of the customer, it is critical that you apologize. Giving a customer a genuine apology, even when the situation has nothing to do with you, shows that you acknowledge there was a service failure for the customer. In most cases, this is what the customer is looking for. A sincere apology can be powerful in service recovery.
  5. Take action.
    After listening, putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, and apologizing for the service failure, it is important to resolve the service issue. Consulting with your supervisor when an incident has occurred is best since these should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Appropriate and timely solutions bring back that customer’s confidence and reassurance.

Remember, you are the front-line service provider and your role is critical as a representative of TriCorps. We know that things will not always go as planned, and want to help prepare you on ways to recover well. If you have any questions regarding customer service and recovery, please contact your supervisor for more information.

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