Six Steps To Service Recovery

The Internet and social media have amplified the consumer’s voice.

January 01, 2012
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The Internet and social media have amplified the consumer’s voice, says Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of “…And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want.”

That makes it especially important for credit unions to have a service-recovery plan in place.

“If someone were to go viral with a negative story about your company, you might lose scores of customers,” she says.

Kuzmeski offers these service-recovery tips:

  1. Understand the member’s situation. Teach employees to understand the context of a situation, sympathize with the member, and tailor the solution accordingly.
  2. Be specific about how the problem will be handled. Let the member know not only how the problem will be resolved, but when. This will reduce the member’s anxiety.
  3. Follow through. Make sure what you said would happen to resolve the issue actually did.
  4. Treat subsequent complaints like emergencies. Most people are forgiving of one mistake, if addressed promptly. But if a complaint resurfaces, there’s no room for further delay or error.
  5. Make sure your service philosophy permeates your credit union. Confirm that everyone understands your member-service plan and knows how to solve problems together.
  6. Don’t assume members will give you a second chance. You’re lucky if a member contacts you at all about a problem—so get it right the first time. Too often, members will just move on.

Many companies focus on major initiatives but lose their customers over little things, Kuzmeski says.

“Customer relationships are made or broken when something goes wrong. If you don’t have well-developed service recovery techniques in place, you’ll lose the customer every time.”

6 Steps are only part of a recovery

Ken Schroeder, MBCP, MBCI, VP-Business Continuity
January 04, 2012 9:38 am
RE: Six Steps This article just cracked open the lid of Pandora's Box. I think it is vital that we pry it off and really look at the contents: Service Outage isn't just something that is handled by the tellers or someone looking at Twitter postings. Let's call it what it is: A Disaster. The article touches on the most basic of crisis management functions, namely, Crisis Communications. Communicating internally to staff ("Teach Employees" and "Confirm …everyone understands…."); communicating to members ("Let the member know.." and "Follow through."); and communicating with the media (hinted at via viral negative story). One can't emphasize enough the criticality of crisis communication. It will either make your reputation (witness Tylenol) or spoil it (witness BP.) Now, where's the rest of it? The 6 tips in the article don't do anything to restore one iota of service. That's where the business continuity plan, crisis management plan, IT disaster recovery plan, InfoSecurity breach plan, crisis communications plan and other related safety and response plans all come into play. They need to be much, much more than documents in a 3-ring binder sitting on the CEO's bookshelf. They need to be living, breathing, up-to-date, well-exercised plans. Everyone (and I really mean everyone) in the credit union needs to know what their roles are and how these plans are implemented. The business continuity plan should be second nature to everyone. Don't get me wrong, a complaint can be the canary in the coal mine. Absolutely, pay close attention to them, as they may indicate a serious problem that is boiling beneath the surface, about to explode into a real, members-abandoning-the-credit-union crisis. Watch for repeats or similar complaints. The front line staff are the lynchpin in this process-all complaints or hints that service could be improved in some way or another should be collected in a central point for trend analysis. Remember, when it comes to reputation, it takes at least seven "Atta-boy's" to wipe out one "Uh-oh!"

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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