Service recovery in a time of service failure

Eleanor Cooksey writes:

Though it is hard to gauge the full impact of the postal strike on the economy, it is worth considering the response of different organisations. Whilst big businesses will have been able to avoid the worst as they have their own delivery methods, others appear to have used this as an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to serving the customer.

For example, Boden sent out an email to all their customers letting them know deliveries would be unaffected as they were using their courier network, despite the extra expense (“the finance department might grumble a bit, but needs must and all that”). The Economist has encouraged its readers to read a copy online or download an audio edition, as well as, more interestingly, offered to hand deliver to addresses in central locations across a number of major cities in the UK.

Taking this kind of action reminds me of an area of customer service, “service recovery” which a number of our clients are getting interested in. “Service recovery”, put simply, is doing something to delight the customer after they have had a negative experience (generally the company has made some kind of mistake). Service recovery is likely to generate valuable positive word of mouth and loyalty, as well as touch those customers who appear unengaged by the company and the brand: the large mass of “neither satisfied, nor dissatisfied”. Who knows if, by taking appropriate action to deal with the postal strikes, has in fact improved customer satisfaction for some businesses?

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