There has been some great research on the importance of service recovery in developing customer loyalty. In many cases, when a service failure is met with immediate attention and recovery, you can actually build greater loyalty than when no service failure occurred in the first place.
When we teach our 4-A’s service recovery process, we start with “Anticipate.” Why? Because, try as we might, there will likely be some service issues that arise. You’re best equipped to handle anything that comes along if you have taken the time to anticipate potential problems. And the people best suited to anticipate issues are those on the front lines.
If you want to improve your service recovery, start by asking the staff this question. “If you are to hear a complaint, what is it most likely to be about?” Collect the staff responses and follow with, “What can we do to prevent that from happening in the first place?” In addition to that question, decide how to respond when the problem arises.
For example; parking is a notorious culprit in service recovery circles. A busy medical campus can create a parking nightmare for patients, increasing stress and hassle for them and missed appointments or backlogs for the clinical team.
I was teaching the 4 A’s of service recovery on a large campus. When I asked what could prevent the problem, the immediate response was to build more parking. But in a landlocked campus, this was not feasible or affordable. Then one of the schedulers raised her hand and said, “Wait a minute. We know parking is a nightmare between the hours of 10AM and 4PM. Why don’t we start by telling the patient this when they call, and offer them some other alternatives? We could advise them to use remote parking and shuttle or tell them how to access us with public transportation.” All heads turned and silence ensued as people digested the simple logic presented.
What the scheduler had done was to anticipate further upstream from the parking garage. She envisioned how she, the scheduler could help find solutions. And while not everyone would heed the scheduler’s parking warning, it was a feasible option to help manage customer expectations.
The bottom line is that your team may have ideas that can lessen the number of complaints. Ask and listen.