Episode 10: Customer Recovery designed for Customer Delight

MICHELLE: 

Welcome to our Reboot season ender. We hope the last 20 episodes and the weekly Q&A sessions have helped you in your work. 

In this episode, we’ll talk about Customer Recovery and why this is one of the most important skills in service. 

In Season 1, we talked about the value of customer complaints several times, and how these are chances given by customers to recover our relationship with them after a sad experience. Customers are not obligated to share their feedback, the easier way is to simply never come back. 

So when customers recognize great service or complain about a sad one, both feedback are very important in our line of work. 

As service providers, we are not the ones to say that we are doing enough. 

Only the customers we serve get to say that. So if we truly want to be better at our work and strive for EXCELLENCE, we need to find the HUMILITY to ask customers how we can do better, listen to them and take action.

GABE:

For frontliners who have been working in the service industry for a long time, the big risk that we should avoid is getting desensitized to our customers’ feelings. This means we no longer feel affected whenever there is a customer upset with our service or there is a complaint given to our store manager. The moment we stop caring about how others feel, means we chose not to practice EMPATHY anymore. When this happens, you need to have the SELF-AWARENESS to recognize your change in behavior because this lack of empathy for customers will turn into a lack of empathy for your colleagues and employer. This is not the kind of relationship and attitude that will bring TEAMWORK. 

What many do not realize is that every sad customer experience is an opportunity to build loyalty. Yes, you heard me right. There are customers who have become more loyal to a brand or business because of how a sad experience was turned into a memorable story of CUSTOMER DELIGHT. This is made possible through CUSTOMER RECOVERY.

What is Customer Recovery? This is the action done by a company, represented by its employees to respond to a failure in service which led to the customer dissatisfaction. This is not simply saying “sorry”, it is a process that is in place so every frontliner is prepared to handle the situation whenever it occurs. We started Season 2 with lessons on how to become a SELF-LEADER. These leadership skills will be very important in customer recovery. 

What do we need in creating a simple Customer Recovery system?

  1. Proactiveness to identify the problem and provide a solution before the customer brings it to your attention. 
    This could be as simple as running after a customer who dropped in your store, which would be a big relief for the customer who has not yet even realized about the missing item. 
    If the frontliner was not proactive, the said item could remain untouched and unmoved, because the frontliner assumed that the customer would come back for it on their own. Another possible action is to keep the item at the cashier area, ready to be claimed by the customer. While there is nothing wrong with the last scenario, it is still not the kind of response that results in a “wow” experience. Why is this? Because the customer realized he left something and had to make the effort to go back to the store. 
    (edit 3:56 – 4:01)
    Another example is serving the wrong dish to the customer. If we practice INTEGRITY in the workplace, then the frontliner’s proactiveness to inform the customer immediately and arrange for the correct dish to be served is the right thing to do. A frontliner who is not proactive will stay silent and wish for the customer to not notice the error. This is not at all advisable. The frontliner must inform the store manager or supervisor if there are real mistakes in serving the order. 
     
  2. Empathy must be present. I would recommend that you go back to Season 1 Episode 4 where we talked about the 3 ways of how to apply Empathy to respond to a customer complaint. Even if the company has a clear process in handling complaints, if the frontliner who has to communicate with the customer lacks empathy, the desired outcome will not be felt. There will be no customer delight nor satisfaction, when there is no empathy.
     
  3. Surprise the customer by going beyond the expected action. This is the part that brings the magic and turns angry customers into loyal ones who will stay with you for life. Will it cost the business some money? Yes, it will, but what’s more important than setting aside a budget for Customer Recovery is the COMMITMENT to consistently follow the process. This commitment has to come from the top, from the business owner or the management team. When this commitment to carry out the recovery comes from the highest ranking officer in the company, it EMPOWERS all the frontliners to implement and follow the guidelines. The moment the management lacks the consistency in the customer recovery decisions, it sends mixed signals to everyone in the company and causes confusion. The frontliner who is on the ground facing customers daily will start to lose TRUST in the system, and will feel that if he or she decides to recover the customer experience, the employee might end up paying for it from his or her own pocket.

 

This surprise could be giving a free dessert, or sending a sincere note to apologize with a token gift that the customer will appreciate, or not charging the customer given the inconvenience caused. The guideline to follow is, the “value” of the surprise has to be felt and it has to be immediate. Oftentimes, the response of companies does not consider the customer’s lost time. Let’s say in a restaurant, a customer was made to wait for an hour for his order because the server and the kitchen staff had a miscommunication. Simply apologizing and serving the dish after an hour is not considered customer recovery. Why? There was no regard for the customer’s lost time. By not offering something beyond the expected action, the customer only received what he paid for and even lost time due to the inefficiency of the team. This customer will likely not go back anymore. 

Now the interesting part of #3 is that we cannot surprise the customer unless we follow #1 on being proactive and giving the surprise action will not sound sincere if we do not have #2. All three must be present to have a great customer recovery system that can lead to CUSTOMER DELIGHT. 

Imagine if you did not practice proactiveness, once the customer identifies the issue, customer expectations start to form in his or her head, and immediately there is loss of trust. Then it becomes more challenging to recover the experience because the impact of giving something beyond expectations has been reduced. Any action provided will be seen as simply being reactive to the customer’s expectations. 

Since giving something that is beyond what is expected will cost money, a proper system has to be in place so it is always FAIR and there are measures so no one can abuse the system. Companies who lack empowerment for their staff have the fear that their own employees may abuse the system. In the end, it became more convenient for the management to simply not have customer recovery at all. This is not the right approach. How can business owners and teams address this? In Episode 5 of Season 1 we talked about OPENNESS. To be receptive to new ideas and seek feedback from the employees to recommend what customers would like to receive as a way of recovery will be a great starting point. Making them part of designing the solution helps them feel empowered. TRUST is rebuilt internally, and they will see the management and the business owner leading them with the GIVER MINDSET. This kind of role modelling will now inspire the employees to practice the same mindset with their customers. 

We end our Season 2 here. Thank you for joining Michelle and me on this Reboot Journey for the past 8 weeks. We invite you to follow SatisFIND on Facebook where we will continue to answer your questions and share more practical skills that you can apply at work and help you become better each day. Thank you for joining.