I am often reminded of Disney’s words when I think of customer satisfaction, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
As a consumer myself, there is much truth in what he means in those few words. Take care of your customers, if not, the competition out there will.
By serving from the heart, you can achieve service recovery. It will make the difference between customers leaving the experience annoyed, angry and disappointed with ill feelings and leaving the scene satisfied and wanting to come back.
So what then is at the HEART of service recovery? Let’s take a quick look:
In service recovery, it is important to be humble and say sorry even if you are not to blame.
You have to ensure that that the customer feels satisfied. During any service hiccups, encourage yourself to acknowledge and apologise readily to the patrons of your business.
Use statements like “I am sorry that the meal was not up to your expectations, please allow us to offer you something else on the menu” or “I am sorry that you are feeling upset over this and from what you have said, I can understand why you feel the way you do and I do not want you to leave my store unhappy”.
As you strive to keep your businesses successful, learning the art of saying sorry is important. Do not see apologies as an admission of guilt but as an investment for the continued growth of your business. An apology is an acknowledgement that something has gone wrong.
Saying you are sorry does not mean that you are at fault. Rather, it shows that you care about your customers and their continued patronage. I am sure swallowing your pride will not led to indigestion.
Adopt empathy during the service recovery process. When you place yourself in the shoes of your customers and see things from their viewpoint, you draw a greater understanding of what they think and feel. Armed with this knowledge, it would be easier to provide better service recovery strategies.
You should also adopt the good habit of active listening and staying calm and composed during the service recovery process. With great composure, you can show great strength in service.
Another strategy for showing empathy is by acknowledging and validating the customers feelings like “I can hear how upset you are about this” and “I can understand why you feel the way that you do”, “You seemed to be upset about something” or “I sense your concern”.
Availability and accountability
It is extremely important to be available for your customers at all times. Customers feel more assured when they feel the personal touch. During difficult situations, when the situation is tense and customers shout in anger, this is the avenue for them to blow off steam. Do not become emotionally entangled with the service aspect.
Accountability is everything. Do not avoid the unpleasant encounter. If you face a complaint or a negative feedback, own up and take personal responsibility. This would leave a positive impression on the customers.
Responsive, respectful and making it right
You have to respect your customer and be responsive to be a problem-solver. When handling customers concerns, there has to be that strong sense of urgency. Service recovery is the process of immediately making things right after something has gone wrong.
When something does not meet with the customer’s expectations, how can you deal with the situation or handle them? What should your goal be?
The aim is to make the customer’s bad experience disappear and replace it with a positive memorable experience. Find solutions in solving the problem and do not allow it to snowball into a “formal” complaint. It is vital to be honest in your dealings.
Trust and thank your customer
Be thankful for the continuous support of your customer and always ensure that trust between you and the customer are never compromised. When it comes to the word “trust”, you are in the centre.
Be real and be true to your customer. You have to look after your customers’ needs and focus on customer satisfaction.
“Satis” in Latin means “enough”. If you could focus on meeting or exceeding customer’s expectation (enough), they would feel contented and happy. Customers buy the products not only because they understand the products, they buy them because they feel they are understood.
As author Stephen Covey puts it: “Seek to understand, rather than to be understood”.
Service recovery should be everyone’s responsibility in the service industry. You would not want your customers to perceive that you did not meet their expectations. Treat customers’ complaints as valuable feedback so as to sharpen your service recovery sword.
As John Maxwell, the American author and motivational speaker said: “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Customers are the pulse of any business, so invest some time in pumping some heart into you service recovery.
Article by Santhanaram Jayaram (Ram), senior consultant of Training Edge International. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org; Website : www.trainingedgeasia.com
If you want to know more about this and other related topics, attend the seminar “Customer Service Excellence” on 25 June 2010.