7 Steps to Service Recovery – Above & Beyond the Irate Customer

By Nancy Friedman, President Telephone Doctor Customer Service Speaker

Almost anyone who’s been in a customer service position has had the opportunity of running into either an irate call, person or a situation that, shall we say, is not pleasant. And even though it may not even be our fault, we still need to know how to recover the situation. Here are the Telephone Doctor’s 7 Steps to Service Recovery that will help make your day a better one! 

  1. It IS your responsibility. If you have answered the phone on behalf of the company, you have indeed accepted 100% responsibility. At least that’s what the caller/customer believes. So, get off the “it’s not my fault” syndrome. And get on with the “what can I do for you?” position.
  1. “I’m sorry” & “I apologize” DOES work. Occasionally I hear from folks and they tell me they don’t feel they should say “I’m sorry” when it wasn’t their fault. Well, in the customer’s mind, it is your fault. Saying you’re sorry won’t fix the problem, but it does help to defuse it immediately. Try it. You’ll see.
  1. Sympathize immediately. When someone is angry or frustrated with your company or product, the one thing they need is someone to agree with them, or at least feel they’re being understood. Be careful, though: “I know how you feel” is NOT a good thing to say even if you have been through exactly what they have experienced. Everyone’s feelings are so personal. Better to try “That’s got to be so frustrating.” Or “What an unfortunate situation.” Or “Let’s get it fixed.”
  1. IMMEDIATE action is necessary to make a service recovery. Don’t make a customer wait for good service. Get whatever it is they need to them immediately. Overnight service if it’s necessary. That’s recovery. REMEMBER: Telephone Doctor’s motto: IT SHOULD NEVER TAKE 2 PEOPLE TO GIVE GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.
  1. Ask what would make them happy. In a few rare cases, the customer can be a most difficult one. If you have tried what you considered “everything,” simply ask the customer: “What can I do to make you happy Mr. Jones?” In most cases, it may be something you’re able to do. You just may not have thought of it. So, go ahead and ask them.
  1. Understand the true meaning of Service Recovery. Service Recovery is not just fixing the problem. It’s making sure it won’t happen again. It’s listening to the customer. It’s going above and beyond.
  1. FOLLOW UP. After you feel the problem has been fixed, follow up. After you’ve made the customer happy, make an extra phone call a day or so later. Or a personal note. Be sure to ask them: “Have we fixed everything for you?” “What else can we do for you?” Be sure they’re satisfied. When you hear: “Thanks, you’ve done a great job. I appreciate it.” Then you know you’ve achieved SERVICE RECOVERY!

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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website www.nancyfriedman.com or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at nancyf@telephonedoctor.com. Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly

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