April 28, 2009
Rule #2 of the four step process to dazzle customers deals with how you respond to a service breakdown in your organization.
Typically service breakdowns include such things as a broken promise made to a customer, a product or service that doesn’t work the way the manual says it should, billing mistakes or service repairs that need to be redone because they weren’t completed right the first time.
The formula for Recovery is: Service Recovery = Fix it and Do the Unexpected.
Lets face it when you make a service mistake, the customer expects you to fix it. They aren’t dazzled when you correct your error; they don’t say ‘WOW I can’t believe you actually remedied what you screwed up!’. This is where most companies fall short. They actually believe that by merely fixing their mistake the customer will be satisfied and their obligations will have been fulfilled. Well if you are only concerned with satisfying customers that may be true but if you want to dazzle them and earn their lifelong trust and loyalty you need to go further.
The dazzle factor is about doing what they DON’T expect. The challenge is to discover the extra action that will both surprise and delight the customer and blow them away . The dazzle act must first of all be relevant to the customer. Providing something extra for the customer that doesn’t resonate with their needs, wants and desires will leave them scratching their head. And it must be compelling. It must be a high priority with the customer to make them incredibly impressed that you would go to all that trouble. In this regard you really need to know your customer really well.
I talk in the Marketing Section of my book about Customer Secrets, and the need to go deep in your relationship with a customer to get to know them ‘intimately’. This is the major source of the do the unexpected actions intended to dazzle a customer in the service recovery process.
Oh and by the way, you don’t have forever to complete the Recovery process. Studies have found that you have about 24 hours to get it done; after that it turns into a de-dazzling event and customer loyalty goes down the tube. It is counterintuitive, but making a mistake and executing a dazzling recovery results in stronger customer loyalty than if the service breakdown never occurred at all! No, I don’t think it would be wise to make some strategic service errors so you have the opportunity to Recover and enhance loyalty. Since humans and machines are prone to error I think there will be sufficient opportunity to practise Recovery.
Last point: if Recovery is such a critical element in building customer loyalty, why are there very few organizations that have a Recovery Service Strategy? You can’t recover well by ad-hoc action. Recovery must be carefully thought out in terms of the customer group involved, the dazzle actions that should be taken and the level of recovery investment the company feels is necessary given the value of the customers they serve. The dazzle plan and the required investments should reflect the value of the various customer groups served; the higher the customer value, the more robust the Recovery actions and the higher investments that should be acceptable.
Do you have a good Recovery story? Share it with me.
Cheers, Roy Osing