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3 Pitfalls to Service Recovery

Posted by Kristin Baird on June 5th, 2018 • 1 Comment »

Service recovery is an essential in improving the patient experience. When people think of service recovery, it’s common to immediately recall the most difficult situations. For example, the caller who yelled profanities about his bill, the family member who says he’s going to consult an attorney, or the patient who threatened to leave AMA because no one answered her call light. The truth is, service recovery opportunities often slip by unnoticed, unless everyone is trained to spot the subtle signs that trouble is brewing, and intercede as quickly as possible. It’s often the little things that matter.

When we work with organizations on improving patient experience, service recovery is one of the most important elements of the patient experience improvement journey. We know that the sooner you can turn around a bad experience, the better the odds for a satisfied customer.

Here are 3 of the most common pitfalls in service recovery:

  1. Avoiding people who appear upset or ignoring cues. We find that the root of this is response is insecurity. Staff will avoid trouble if they feel unprepared to handle someone’s anger or disappointment.
  2. Defensiveness- this arises from an individual’s need to be right, and can escalate problems even faster. When we do training and practice service recovery responses, we often see defensiveness as the default response.
  3. Summoning someone else at the first sign of trouble. Calling the patient advocate instead of dealing with voiced concerns is often a cultural issue. If you don’t expect ownership, encourage it, and train for it; you won’t get it.

The truth is; most organizations don’t really train for service recovery or have a plan in place. Where do you stand?

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Baird Consulting

One Response to “3 Pitfalls to Service Recovery”

  1. Susan Leys says:

    My favorite question to ask when listening to patients express concerns regarding their quality of care or service is “Tell me what you wish had happened?” (open ended question that can not be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’) – and then wait for the patient or family member to answer. I have found that even when we think we know what they are going to say, there always seems to be something – a perspective or an interesting dynamic that we were not aware of that leads us to integrate a change which improves care for everyone. Every difficult conversation I have had has almost always led to a growth opportunity for me professionally along with an improvement of some type which has benefitted patients and families. Have the tough conversations – you will not regret it.


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