11 steps towards a culture for service recovery

Leading organizations in many industries have sharpened service recovery into a potent competitive edge. They understand the power of effective recovery as a customer retaining and employee engaging technique.

To build a powerful culture of service recovery in your organization, focus on these key areas:

1. Senior management support. You need vigorous endorsement of service recovery as a vital element in your overall service strategy. The top team must realize that time and money invested in recovery comes back multiplied.

2. A comprehensive recovery plan. This must be carefully crafted, widely communicated and well-understood. Build training and systems to support consistent implementation.

3. Strong service guarantees, backed with immediate action. Strong guarantees give customers a sense of security, and staff members a target to achieve.

4. Discovery systems that seek out and identify service breakdowns. These may be internally driven with flags, filters and alarms, or may depend on external notification from your customers, allies and business partners.

5. Rapid disclosure of breakdowns. When problems are discovered, you need fast communication to all appropriate parties. Don’t shoot the messenger. And don’t try hiding the evidence, covering up the problem or sweeping the affair under the rug. It will come out one day to haunt you.

6. A ‘SWAT team’ response to problems. Once a problem is identified, you want tightly coordinated action with sufficient authority to get the job done.

7. Solutions are evaluated by your customer’s perception and results, not by the time, cost or effort required. You may think you have done a wonderful job setting things right, but if your customer is not happy and loyal, there is still work to be done.

8. Meaningful customer compensation means giving generously to those inconvenienced by service problems. Give enough to show your sincerity and generosity.

9. System improvements make sure the problems won’t be repeated. Lock in gains for your organization with improved systems, training and procedures.

10. Reward and recognition for the team. When a tough problem arises, the recovery team needs a pat on the back when the actions and efforts are done.

11. Organizational learning to capture what happened and what was done about it. Breakdowns and recoveries should be widely communicated. Turn lessons learned into guideposts for the organization. Use these as examples in your service education programs.

How do you score in each of these areas? Where can you build a stronger culture for Effective Service Recovery?