If this title has a familiar ring, you must have watched Quantum Leap-the sci-fi series that was popular in the early '90s. The star of this show, Dr. Sam Beckett, is driven by an unknown force to change history for the better.
As part of Wittenberg's customer service effort, each of us is expected to strive to put right what once went wrong. Some might eagerly challenge this statement proclaiming that our effort should be to get it right the first time. O.K., but despite our best efforts, mistakes will happen. Fortunately, in the eyes of the customer, there's some evidence that suggests service recovery is just as important as getting it right the first time. Common sense tells us that customers who never had a problem with a product or service are the most likely to boast about that error-free organization. The experience of others indicates that's not always the case.
One global hotel chain was stunned to discover an odd consequence of its intense customer service program. They found that what really made customers happy was how well the hotel responded when something went wrong. Guests who were involved in the successful resolution of a problem, according to their survey, were more likely to recommend the hotel to others than those who had a trouble-free stay.
Writing in Fortune, author and business adviser Michael Schrange says a graceful recovery makes a customer faithful. But most businesses are so concerned about quality that recovery from problems is almost an afterthought.
Unlike Sam Beckett whose only guide was Al, a hologram that only Sam could see and hear, Wittenberg has purchased the Noel Levitz Advanced Connections training materials to help serve as our guide. The materials outline the following 5-step approach to service recovery:
Acknowledge the Problem
Make sure the customer knows you have heard and understood his or her concerns.
Say "I'm sorry" immediately to diffuse customer annoyance and demonstrate that you're on the same side.
Look for creative ways to remedy the problem, remembering that the goal is customer satisfaction, not staff convenience.
Communicate and make amends
Share your solution with the customer, gain agreement, and offer to "make it up" to the customer if possible.
Implement and follow up
Solve the problem, keep your promises, and check to be sure the customer is now satisfied.
People don't often call to tell you everything is wonderful. They usually call because they want something else, something better, or something fixed. Service recovery is our chance to turn a negative into a positive. Or, as Sam Beckett said each week, a chance to put right what once went wrong.