Healing Customer Service (Part 2)

Note: Last week, I featured Part 1 of Chip Bell’s guest post on the process of service recovery that included communicating with “Humility” and “Empathy”. Here’s Part 2.

How to Turn an “Oops” into an Opportunity by Chip R. Bell (continued)

Step 3– Exhibit Agility

Healing communication includes Agility…words and actions that tell customers they are dealing with someone who has what it takes to correct their problem. They want can-do competence, attentive urgency, and take-charge “I’ll turn this around” attitudes. Service failure first and foremost robs the confidence customers have in an organization. But, that confidence can be restored if customers observe your agility in quickly and confidently implementing a solution to their problem.

The secret to this step is letting the customer see your efforts. Simply telling a customer, “Wait in the reception area and I’ll work on it,” may seem like a polite approach. But, it strips the customer of the chance to see you in action. Let the customer hear you call someone and say, “George, we have a problem we need to work on immediately.” Let the customer witness you walking faster, moving more quickly, and acting more concerned. Remember, confidence is restored by what you do, not by what you promise.

Step 4–Demonstrate Your Loyalty

Healing communication includes Loyalty…the after-the-fact experiences of the customer that say: “We won’t abandon you now that we hopefully have regained your business.” It is the opposite of “taking for granted.” It is about continuous care and frequent follow-up. Customer service research has shown that follow-up is one of the most powerful steps you can take in cementing a long term relationship, especially after a problem.

Pick up the phone and call the customer to find out if everything is back to normal. Send the customer a note. When the customer returns for future service, ask about the last problem. If customers know you remember and are still concerned, they’ll come to realize their bad experience was an exception. And, don’t forget to follow-up with your associates to insure whatever caused the problem is corrected so other customers won’t be disappointed.

Mistakes are a part of all relationships–with spouses, friends, and customers. However, an oops can be turned into an opportunity by how we effectively handle service recovery. The best organizations view service recovery as an important chance to HEAL a broken customer relationship—through humility, empathy, agility and loyalty.

[Note: Chip R. Bell is co-author (with John R. Patterson) of the best-selling book Take Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers. He can be reached at www.taketheirbreathaway.com]

Thanks for sharing, Chip!

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