Scenic takeover left
Scenic takeover left

How to rectify a sticky situation

Oh no! You’ve made a mistake and you're worried your client will bite your head off or even worse, your boss will fire you. Here’s a handy service recovery guide to create loyal customers and to avoid getting the boot.

Oh no! You’ve made a mistake and you’re worried your client will bite your head off or even worse, your boss will fire you. Here’s a handy service recovery guide to create loyal customers and to avoid getting the boot.

Every organization, no matter how good it is or how awesome its service, makes mistakes. Sometimes it’s not even within your control; overbooked or late flights, the weather or even just bad luck. It’s how we handle those mistakes that determine the level of service that we provide and the loyalty that service instills in our customers.


Things to note

Customers have diverse values and preferences when it comes to dealing with compensation. They vary day-to-day and customer-to-customer, so how do you conduct effective service recovery? There are a few things you should bear in mind that almost always apply.


  • Customers know that things can and will go wrong, but they hate excuses. They don’t care which department or which person made the mistake, they see your business as a whole.
  • You’re working together. With most sticky situations, the customer’s sense of trust increases after a problem is successfully resolve compared to if you never had the problem in the first place.
  • Don’t assume what the customer wants, ASK. They may ask for something extreme or absurd but don’t rush to dismiss it, there just might be a creative way to approach it and make it happen (or something similar).
  • Fix it and then give EXTRA. You’re not doing something special for the customer by making things how they should have been in the first place.
  • Always consider lifetime and network value. A loyal customer is likely worth a small fortune to your company when you think about how much they’re likely to travel in the next 10 years. Equally important is their network value, the value of their recommendations to their network.


4 steps to amazing service recovery


Service breakdowns are uncomfortable and we’re not always well trained on how to handle the situation. We should reframe these mistakes as a hidden opportunity to bring a customer closer to you. Here’s an easy four step procedure to make sure you get it right.


1. Apologise

Think about the last time you complained about something only to receive a template letter from the organization, not very satisfying was it? What’s needed is a sincere and personal apology. The key to an effective apology is to convey from the beginning that you have listened to their complaint, you will take her side and help her with the problem.


2. Review

Let your customer explain to you what’s gone wrong in the customer experience from their point of view. Find out what you could do to fix it, and what they feel would be an ideal outcome for both parties.


3. Fix and follow up


Fix the issue or create an alternative solution to help your customer out, the quicker the better (but don’t rush and create even more problems for your client). This part is important to get right. Now that you’ve fixed it, it’s important to go that #KOExtraMile and provide something a little extra like a free upgrade or a more creative offering. Follow up with the customer to make sure everything went well and they were happy with your solution, but also follow up with your staff internally to let them know about the customer’s troubles.


4. Document in detail

You and everyone in your organization that’s customer facing should be trained to record every problem (and solution) in great detail. It stops the customers from having to repeat themselves if you’re away and it may even lead to identifying trends or patterns that hint at underlying causes to recurring problems.


What mistakes have caused you grief whilst travelling? Let us know in the comments below.