5 Steps To A Winning Service Recovery

Companies that listen to customers are like a glass of cool water on a hot day.

Companies that listen to customers are like a glass of cool water on a hot day.

A few weeks ago I spent some time airing out my grievances with my bank over their handling of the recent Home Depot security breach.  To summarize, they discovered that my debit card may have been compromised and they immediately canceled it.  I had no cash and no back up credit card, which meant I was in a pinch to do basic things like buy food and put gas in my car.  Because of delays with their supplier of debit cards, it took me two weeks to receive new cards.  My point of the post was that none of this was actually my bank’s fault, but I am their customer and they should be working to minimize my inconvenience.  Needless to say, my pleas to customer service were met with canned responses.

After writing that blog post, I shared it with the bank and asked them to forward it to management.  I am delighted to say that my bank listened!  I received a call last week from Thomas, the customer service manager and when it comes to service recovery, he scored a perfect 10!  Here are the steps he followed:

1. Thank the customer for the feedback

Before he said anything else, Thomas thanked me for caring enough to share my blog post with him.  Vala Afshar says “A social business views customer feedback as a gift. Accept graciously, unwrap enthusiastically, and share.”  Clearly, Thomas has the same perspective.

2. Apologize for the inconvenience

Thomas’ next step was to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hardship this situation had caused me.  After receiving only canned responses from frontline customer care, a sincere apology was like a glass of cold water on a hot day.

3. Listen to the customer

Depending on how fresh the situation is in the customer’s mind, allow extra time to cool off. Even though you may be well aware of the situation, listen to the customer and even allow them to rehash their concerns if necessary.

4. Explain the problem

When the time is right, you owe your customer an explanation on how you plan to improve.  Thomas did just that.  He then shared with me that due to the level of urgency in protecting the assets of their customers, they acted quickly but possibly too quickly.  He also explained that they are aware of the delays in sending out debit cards and this is a major problem.

5. Share the solution

The next step is to share your plan for improvement.  Thomas first remarked that he had shared my blog post with their customer experience committee.  In response to my concern they are taking two actions.  First, they are evaluating new debit card vendors to see if they can improve the time it takes to deliver these to customers.  Second, rather than canceling debit cards in these cases, they are going to instead temporarily lower credit limits.  This allows customers access to some of their money until the new debit cards are received.

To a customer on the verge of switching to a new bank, I was delighted to receive this call.  It appears that my bank has discovered the fact that effectively listening to and responding to customer feedback drives both customer loyalty and organizational improvement.

These security breaches are becoming all too frequent these days (ie. Home Depot, Target, etc).  Assuming my bank makes good on Thomas’ promises, and I believe they will, I have no reason to take my business elsewhere.  On the contrary, I’m proud to do business with any company that listens to its customers!


Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.


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