I am no stranger to travel. In fact, with my consulting business, I easily travel 150 days per year or more. During my many sojourns, I have experienced lost reservations, flight delays that cause me to miss connections. Even natural disasters that flooded my hotel. I once witnessed a man wheeling my suitcase out the door – The suitcase containing the suit I planned to wear for the morning’s opening keynote. Yes, I’ve had my share of travel issues and have learned to roll with the punches for the most part. I am not a travel diva and can forgive most service missteps because, after all, we’re all human. I do, however, draw the line when someone completely fails at service recovery and takes no responsibility for correcting issues once pointed out.
Importance of Service Recovery
This week I’m in Belize on a long-awaited trip with a friend. After reading tons of online reviews, and poring over lovely pictures, we booked a hotel. Talk about bait and switch. Nothing about our experience would earn even a 3-star review. The biggest problem? The blasé attitude of staff when we pointed out something that needed correction. For example, our room had no towels. Okay, no big deal. A housekeeper got busy and forgot. We mentioned it at the front desk. They dropped off two flimsy towels that, when combined, would cover very little real estate and, when held up, allowed you to watch the sunset through them.
When we politely told them the second time that we needed hand towels and face cloths, we never got them… nor did they fix the safe when we explained that it didn’t work. A big problem because we also realized the sliding door lock was flimsy, and all of our possessions were in plain sight of anyone walking past the room.
I could go on about the numerous issues we had, but I won’t. The point is that we were ready to forget any and all of the issues and move on. But, because we were ignored, the little things added up to huge dissatisfaction, and we checked out after the first night. Then, we shared the story with friends and family and wrote reviews with photos.
In healthcare, the stakes are even higher than two women having a disappointing vacation. When a patient or family member takes the initiative to point out a problem – TAKE ACTION. They are giving you the precious opportunity to make things right. Follow up to make sure the issue has been corrected and ask what else you can do. When you take ownership of service recovery and the experience, you are acting on behalf of the entire organization and preventing a little thing from exploding into a big issue.