Zero to Hero – Complaint Recovery Strategy

Zero to Hero – Complaint Recovery Strategy

No matter how committed your company is to service, mistakes will happen. New employees don’t know the ropes. Staff  rush to handle volume. Typos are made. At some time or other a customer will be disappointed, maybe even angry. When that happens, the focus has to be on the customer, not on you.

And here’s the good news. When things go wrong, the opportunity to strengthen the relationship is often even better than if things rolled along smoothly all the time. While you don’t want to create problems on purpose so that you can reap accolades, you’ll need a solid service recovery procedure in place to deal with issues when they arise.

Practice the A.A.A.A.B. approach to service

In order to help your employees think on their feet when unexpected (or unexplainable) errors occur, give them a simple acronym to follow: A.A.A.A.B. where each letter represents one of the 5 steps of the process:

1) Apologize

The magic words “I’m sorry” can go a long way towards restitution. Even if you know you’re right, a heartfelt apology can diffuse a difficult situation.

2) Acknowledge

A sympathetic acknowledgement demonstrates that you “get it” so repeat back the customer’s complaint and the damage it’s caused to illustrate you understand the impact. Then ask what you can do to make things right.

3) Atone

Sometimes the customer wants more from you than just fixing your mistake and an apology. You might have to throw in a little something extra that shows you want to make it up to them. For example: a coupon, a discount, a refund, a free item or an invitation to a special event. Be prepared for it – and it doesn’t always have to be something that costs you money. Think about how you would treat them if they were your friend.

4) Affirm

The big win is turning an irate customer into one who will sing your praises. The piece-de-resistance is the follow-up after the problem is fixed. It’s an affirmation that you value their business and that you’re not just doing damage control. First prize is in person. Second prize by phone. Third prize by email.

5) Bonus

Finally, it’s important to get to the root of what caused the problem in the first place. Giving customers free products and services might make them happy, but it’s not going to guarantee that the same problem won’t crop up again. If there’s something systematically wrong, fix that next. Then go back once more to the customer who complained. Thank them again for pointing out the glitch in your system and tell them what you are now doing differently to lessen the chance of it ever happening.

They’ll love you for it!

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