A client recently asked: “When we make a mistake or fall short of a client expectation, how do we go beyond just fixing the problem and recover “the great customer experience” we worked so hard to create?”
This is an important question as clients and customers have a choice of products and services, and an ever increasing voice in the market of social opinions. A successful and creative recovery can be a unique pivot point in a customer relationship, actually building greater loyalty.
Here is a three step approach to successful recovery – to go beyond a fix, to recapture the customer experience, and to “Bounce UP” to long-term loyal success:
1. Fix the problem. You do need to fix the problem as fast as possible. The cost of the fix must be considered, but don’t get hung up pinching pennies or going through layers of bureaucratic approvals. Service recovery is an investment in long-term relationship and the ROI can be tremendous. Your fix may be a replacement, a repair, a return, a forgotten document sent, a promise fulfilled, a new product alternative, an apology, or a new person working with the client. Don’t get stuck pointing fingers internally or arguing about cost. Just do it. And ensure it does not happen again – for this customer and others. Make each mistake a learning opportunity for everyone involved. Repeated mistakes are the real cost you want to avoid.
2. Show Your Concern. Fixing the problem is “expected” – it is an average response. But by itself it is a missed opportunity. Add another “layer” to your response. This means doing something more for the experience of the person. Show genuine concern. Let them feel you recognize their pain. Imagine the impact of this breakdown on your customer’s customer, or their boss, and the stress it caused. Appreciate and acknowledge in writing, in person, or by phone. Let them hear and see your concern. Nobody expects perfection, but everyone appreciates empathy.
3. Create the Wow! Factor. Go an extra step and “surprise” your customer with something NOT expected. This may or may not be directly related to the problem you fixed, but it should be something that client appreciates and values. And it does not have to be financial. In many cases a personal Wow! has even more meaning. The key is to know what your customer values and then make it happen. Maybe it’s a lunch or dinner. Perhaps a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers or balloons. It could be a sizable discount, a free product, or an unexpected upgrade. Be creative. One of our B2B clients surprised his customer by sending a chef and gourmet coffee to serve breakfast at the team’s morning meeting!
Here is a simple example I recently experienced. I have never been a Zappos customer before. My first order was a set of specialty glassware for my sister. (Today Zappos sells a lot more than shoes!) The order arrived with one of eight glasses broken. The easy “fix” would be for Zappos to send a replacement. But here is what happened instead.
With one phone call to one representative for less than five minutes, Zappos replaced the broken glass (the fix). They also refunded me the entire order “because it caused so much disappointment” (showing concern). Finally, the Wow factor, they sent my sister a $40 gift card for a future order. This was unexpected but of value as she could choose whatever she wanted to buy. Did Zappos earn two new loyal customers? Yes!
The recovery process was simple and fast. No layers and approvals to work through. Not only did the phone call take just a few minutes, but confirming emails arrived to me and my sister within minutes. Did Zappos lose money on this recovery? Only in the short term.
Teach and empower your people to take this simple three-step recovery approach. You will find the customer experience becomes the focus for your team and the reward for your customers.