Service Recovery is what you do when a customer has a really bad experience. It can be triggered by a complaint, a bad survey score, or a request from a customer for some sort of follow-up. Usually it involves contacting the customer, listening to the complaint, and trying to resolve the root cause or offer some solution.
Customers who wind up in Service Recovery include the worst of the customer service disasters. These are the customers who have had repeated billing mistakes, broken promises, lost paperwork, you name it. There are also a small number of loudmouth complainers who are trying to get something for nothing, but those are usually few and far between.
Really big companies have departments set up to handle these issues (some more effective than others). Smaller companies often handle Service Recovery more informally.
Even if you don't have a dedicated department for handling Service Recovery, you need to track every Service Recovery event. This should include who is responsible for following up with the customer, when the customer was contacted and whether the contact was successful, what the root cause of the problem was, and what resolution was offered.
This tracking is just as important for smaller companies as for big ones:
- If you don't track it, it probably won't get done. Service Recovery is nobody's favorite job. It involves calling angry customers, listening to them complain without getting defensive, and giving them the benefit of the doubt even if that puts your coworkers and friends in a bad light. Somehow, other tasks always seem to take priority. Tracking allows you to hold someone accountable for getting it done.
- Service Recovery can hold great insights. Most business metrics are designed to track how well things are generally going, not to discover where processes are broken. Service Recovery is where you find customers who were dealt the worst your company has to offer, and tracking the root causes of customers' problems shows you where to improve.
- Done well, Service Recovery can lead to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction. Research has shown that if you deal with a problem quickly and efficiently, cutomers will be more loyal and more satisfied than they would have if there was never any problem to begin with.
So whatever size organiztion you are in, make sure customer complaints, neagtive surveys, and requests for follow-up get tracked and managed. Even if you only handle a few per month, this small bit of management effort will pay enormous dividends.