Good intentions aren’t enough when it comes to service recovery. Having the right words also isn’t enough. Although it is imperative that staff be trained in how to acknowledge and apologize effectively, I find that the biggest gap comes in their confidence to take action.
For example, I was in the middle of a consulting engagement and was conducting service recovery training. Being an experiential process, I had given several scenarios to small groups to discuss and role play. As we went around to hear what the groups had done, I heard a common theme. That theme was that people knew what the best thing to do was, but kept saying things like, “I’d get in trouble if I did that” Or “I’d lose my job if I did that.”
I brought the concern back to the senior leaders. When I gave them a few of the examples from the training, the COO was downright enraged. He actually pounded his fist on the table and shouted, “How dare you encourage my staff to break the rules!” I, of course, hadn’t encouraged anyone to break rules, but rather live up to their standards and value statements through their behaviors.
Whoa! Seeing that reaction was quite telling. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to diagnose the underlying problem here. Seeing that the CEO deferred to the COO, I realized that managers and supervisors couldn’t possibly support independent thinking required in service recovery.
This disconnect doesn’t just happen at the top of organizations. I’ve seen it happen between supervisors and staff, as well as managers and directors.
If you are intentionally hiring service-minded people, then you’ve got to nurture them in delivering great service. That means supporting them in their efforts at service recovery. Your customers and staff will thank you.