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Tips for Providing Quality Service Recovery

I recently flew Delta to Lima, Peru, on a Saturday and was filming 13 videos on Sunday.

The flight left Minneapolis an hour late and when it arrived in Atlanta, no one knew the plane was coming in. The jet way had no employees available so the passengers and luggage couldn’t be unloaded. We lost a ton of time and although I was able to get to my connecting flight just minutes before the doors closed. I am not sure how many people missed their flights. There was no apology from Delta.  

Note:  Delta has about 85% of the gates in Minneapolis so they have a monopoly.  NOT everyone has a monopoly.

Upon arrival in Peru I was told my suitcase did not make the same flight I was on. I had only the clothes I was wearing and was scheduled to start filming in a few hours. By the way, my luggage finally arrived Monday morning at 3 AM. Two days late!!

NO urgency. NO speed. I am Diamond among the top 1/2 of 1 percent of their passengers. I called Delta Diamond when I got back to ask what they were going to do for service recovery. The employee offered me 2,500 miles which cost them $2.50. This is like a slap in the face, very insulting. First I should not have had to call but they have no system in place to handle problems.

I called again and asked to speak to a supervisor and explained the problem. She gave me 25,000 miles. After all this, I was happy. Real cost to Delta $25.00

All these steps should have happened in 60 seconds for real impact. What the front line employee does is magic. It has 10 times the value and impact over what a manager can do.

I have a client in Cyprus and Russia, IQ Option.  They listened to my approach last December in a 2-day Service Strategy (every now and then a customer is super smart and implements the service strategy ideas I provide).  They now provide each employee $1000 a month they can spend on service recovery if the need arises. That is impressive.

Companies like IQ Option succeed in service recover because they:

  • Act Quickly: The employee at the point of contact best implements service recovery.  Avoid moving problems and complaints up the chain of command.  Everything has to happen in 60 seconds for the magic to happen.  When it goes up the chain of command it costs more, takes more time, has less impact and most customers won’t waste their time, they will just take their money and never come back.

  • Take Responsibility: Don’t place blame, make excuses or lie to cover a mistake. Sincerely apologize and thank the customer for pointing out the problem. (I think about 80% of employees lie, hoping the problem will go away).

  • Be Empowered…give those who work with customers the authority to do whatever it takes to ensure customer loyalty. That means the employee who encounters the problem must solve it themselves on the spot.  One of the fears of management is that an employee might give away too much. They have difficulty visualizing an over happy customer. Just take a look at Amazon with their millions of over happy customers and the fact that their company grew $29 billion last year and that Jeff Bezos is now the 2nd wealthiest person in the world with over $90 billion in net worth.

  • Compensate: Give the customer something of value.  Every organization has something of value it can give to a customer who has experienced a problem. Keeping in mind that if you are too cheap it has NO value.

Every organization should do these things:

  1. Train everyone on service recovery. (If interested, I have a book Loyal for Life on our website and on Amazon that teaches how to do this.  I also have a one-session program called Loyal for Life you can use to train all employees. (The link is here

  2. Develop a list of 10 high-value/low-cost products and services your employees can give away on the spot where there is a problem. These are some examples.

    • Telecom: “Here are 500 free minutes for the dropped calls.”

    • Computer store: “I am sorry you had a problem with the software on your new computer. I am going to give you an additional one year warranty.”

    • Hotel: “I am sorry we screwed up on your reservation. I have upgraded you to our President’s Suite.”

    • Grocery: “I apologize for the bad apples you got. in addition to replacing the 2 pounds of bad apples, I have added an additional pound at no charge.”

    • Fitness Center: “I am sorry your personal trainer was late. I have waived the fee for your session pluss I have added one free session.

Less than one percent of companies use or understand Service Recovery.  This is a serious mistake for the growth and wellbeing of your employees and your company.  Saying you are sorry is NOT Service Recovery and it does NOT create customer loyalty.  It’s definitely not what they are doing at Amazon, Outback Steak, Stew Leonard’s, Ritz Carlton, or the Mayo Clinic.  These are all firms that are awesome at providing Service Recovery.

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