Richard Branson, creator and founder of Virgin “everything” said it well.  “90% of all customers become more loyal after a problem with a good recovery.”

A really well thought out customer service program shouldn’t just cover the everyday perfect situations where a customer comes in, they buy a product or a service, everything goes smoothly and they leave raving about you.  Hopefully this happens 97% of the time.  But we all know things can and will go wrong.  It’s something businesses have to openly talk about, and even plan for. I have always said, when sh*t hits the fan… have a plan!

Consider when you walk into your favorite store or place of business, it is filled with the bustle and loads of other customers.  You know the staff are busy on the phones or serving other customers… the wait might be a little longer. As long as there is acknowledgement, then it’s okay.  I train my staff to recognize, be aware, look around and see what’s happening—not an easy thing to do, the environment in retail changes by the second!  But that’s what it takes, eyes in the back of the head to see, hear, react to customer needs. As long as their presence has been noticed, you’ve bought a little time!

Service is the incredible thing you provide to every customer.  They may have had to wait for service (after being acknowledged) or they are instantly served, regardless, they are being looked after in a way that is consistent with your customer care program.

Recovery is when something has gone awry and you’ve just got to fix it!  Customers get upset.  No matter how hard we work, it is inevitable.  They’ll get bent out of shape over a situation, think they were hard done by, received a product or service which was less than standard. Many times as a consumer you’d go back to a place to share with that business about your dissatisfaction. But you know it’s a giant opportunity if you’ve got a dissatisfied customer to turn that situation into a major positive.

Listening to your customers during these times is the best thing. Don’t say anything, let them vent, get it off their chest, just stand back and listen to them. Then after that then you can say, I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. Then you can go over the flipping top! Going over the top may cost you a few bucks at that moment. You might give the customer a discount, or added value product, or just a little token of appreciation of them shopping there.

A great recovery can in fact create best customers, your most liked customers, ones that become the evangelist that everyone is looking for. So don’t just look after “Service” in the middle…look at both sides and see how you can be prepared for a service gone bad situation!