Deskless Work

Understanding The Service Recovery Paradox

Bryan Herijanto

Mistakes are a day-to-day reality of any business, no matter how hard you try and prevent them. 

How you react to them, however, is entirely within your control.

Service recovery helped turn many failures into wins and created surprisingly positive outcomes when staff could guarantee a customer would give them a difficult time. It’s critical to remain well-prepared for different scenarios and act fast when mistakes do happen.

While you should still make a conscious effort to provide a smooth customer experience and top-notch product/service, learning how to buffer accidents is no less important. Let’s examine the service recovery paradox, its best examples, and how to turn mishaps to your advantage.

What Is Service Recovery Paradox?

The ice has long melted in Bob’s cocktail, and his stomach is growling loudly. 

Are they still chasing the chicken around the yard?” he jokes with the waiter, trying to be a good sport about the Chicken Alfredo he ordered 40 minutes ago. Bob won’t cause a scene because he wasn’t raised that way, but he certainly won’t revisit this establishment.

The restaurant manager then swoops in with a loaded tray:

We’re so sorry for the delay — your Chicken Alfredo will be done in 15 minutes at most. Please, enjoy another drink and some snacks while you wait, our treat!

The “snacks” in question were an assortment of delicious foreign cheeses with hot garlic bread — who could say no to that? Chicken Alfredo came less than 10 minutes later. 

Bob tipped generously and brought a friend a few weeks later. 

I love this place!

From a hangry one-time visitor (and hangry is the worst kind of angry!) to a loyal customer — this is the service recovery paradox in action

McCollough, Michael A., and Sundar G. Bharadwaj first coined the term “service recovery paradox” to describe the curious, proven phenomenon of a customer being equally or more satisfied with the outcome than they would be if no issues occurred in the first place. 

Elements of The Service Recovery Paradox

The necessary elements of each service recovery paradox are:

  • An issue — Something must go wrong to kick off the service recovery opportunity.
  • A dissatisfied customer — Important thing to note is that they don’t need to be vocal about their dissatisfaction. You shouldn’t wait for them to become visibly angry before intervening. Some people feel uncomfortable complaining in person, so they’ll opt for online complaints, bad reviews, or discourage their friends/online audience from using your services. Your staff should be able to identify troubles on their own.
  • Staff responding to customer dissatisfaction — Frontline workers and customer service are the first responders that step in to listen, disuse the tension, and provide an appropriate solution. 
  • Service recovery resources — A guidebook that explains how to assess and resolve a variety of bad situations, fast communication channels, proper training, and solutions/perks to offer to the wronged party.

Service Recovery, Step by Step

Here’s how to recover from a blunder once it occurs:

  • Address the situation — If you sweep the issue under the rug, you’ll miss a possible win or have an even angrier customer at worst.
  • Show empathy — When you approach the customer, making them feel heard and showing interest in resolving the issue is essential.
  • Explain how you’ll resolve the situation — The best way to make amends is to present the customers with a swift solution and explain the steps you’ll take to make up for the issue.
  • Never over-promise, but overdeliver whenever possible — Adding something extra to the solution is a nice touch and a gesture of goodwill that will help boost the mood.

Why Would Customers Become More Loyal After a Failure?

When done right, service recovery shows a company's care and respect for its customers. People aren’t entirely devoid of compassion and understanding; after the initial anger disappears, customers will remember that everybody makes mistakes. However, showing professional excellence by addressing and making up for the issue will assure them they’re in good hands even if things go south. 

Also, if customers perceive the high value of your apology and what they got is visibly better than the original deal, they’ll be quick to calm down and have a reason to get back to you.

Note that, like any form of crisis management, service recovery lets you regain some control in unfavorable circumstances. However, you should first decrease the chance of a crisis from happening at all. 

Frontline Workforce Is Key for Service Recovery

Frontline staff is in the best position to handle service failure.

Being at the spot, they are the quickest to spot the issue and respond immediately. Their direct, day-to-day communication with clients provides them with insights and knowledge, which is precious for handling service recovery.

That’s why you should pay special attention to:

How Mercu Helps With Service Recovery

In a nutshell, these two things are crucial for service recovery:

  • Fast and appropriate response;
  • Empowered frontline staff.

Mercu ties to Whatsapp to create a convenient platform that can be used to:

  • Onboard and train staff with automated workflows, no matter their stage in the employee lifecycle;
  • Provide self-serve FAQs they can access whenever they need directions;
  • Assign special channels for different teams to learn, communicate, and discover solutions for any service failure.

Mercu is scalable to any business size and easy to use for all parties — let us show you how with a demo!

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