As we do our culture assessments in healthcare organizations, one of the areas we look at is whether or not our clients have a service recovery process. All too often we hear a resounding “Of course we have a service recovery program.” Yet when we delve deeper, the service recovery process is often a basket of coupons for a free coffee or meal. A coupon does not equate to service recovery. Let me repeat… A coupon does not equate to service recovery. Training your staff to hand off a coupon every time a customer complains without listening and taking personalized, targeted action could add insult to injury.
There is an art and a science to service recovery. When we help organizations with patient-centered culture transformations, service recovery is one of the key elements that must be firmly in place. This requires processes as well as training at both the frontline level as well as at the leader level. The frontline staff needs to have solid skills to spot recovery opportunities and take targeted actions. This is a skill-building process.
We teach a four-step approach, including anticipate, acknowledge, apologize, and amend/act. The leaders must not only know these four steps but also how to empower and support staff in critical thinking around service recovery. This involves training, coaching, and recognizing staff for correct actions.
My challenge to you today is to look at your service recovery process and determine if it’s really service recovery or a perfunctory gesture designed for a quick fix.