When service fails, how do you handle service recovery?

Many businesses pride themselves on great customer service, and I love experiencing and sharing those golden nuggets to inspire others to up their game.  But everyone has an occasion when something goes wrong. How well you handle service recovery is so important as to whether you end up turning a customer into a raving fan, or a ranting detractor.  I’ve unfortunately recently experienced the latter, and by sharing this experience, I hope to get other businesses to reflect on & improve their service recovery.

I’d dropped my phone and cracked the screen. I searched the internet for a rated repair company that could replace my phone screen ASAP. I ruled out a number of cheaper providers, based on their reviews, and selected a mobile phone repair company based in the UK.  Although not cheap, I was glad to see that for my mobile phone model, the website stated that phones are generally repaired same day and  returned the next day .  Only a couple of days without my phone – great!  I duly paid the fees and posted off my phone.

My first frustration occurred when I was contacted to request the phone passcode.  I was advised that without this, I would not be covered under their 12 month warranty.  If I had known this, I would have wiped my phone to avoid sharing my personal info.  Fine – I handed over my passcode.  A couple of days went by, and I’d heard nothing, so I contacted the company.  “Still working on it”, “failed QA” and various reasons were given, and a week went by.  I started calling for updates, and was advised the the replacement part for my phone was en route from China, but would be there by end of week.  I took off Friday, awaiting my phone return, but alas, still nothing, so I contacted the company again.  This time, a helpful chap did try and help, apparently sending a member of the team around various other providers to see if they had the spare part, but to no avail.  Again, I was told the part would arrive any day, so again, I took another day off work the following week to await the return of my phone.  Still nothing, and no communication.  So almost 3 weeks after I sent off my phone, still no progress, I was feeling frustrated, and had even resorted to purchasing a basic phone to keep me connected.

Eventually, I got confirmation that the phone had been repaired and was being sent back to me.  To my home address.  The next day.  I couldn’t just take the next day off so I re-arranged delivery and took another day off.  the phone didn’t arrive, and when I called the courier, they arrived the driver had left for the day, but they did promise a 9am delivery the next day.  The courier did arrive (an hour late) the next morning, and I felt relieved.  That was until I tried to make a call – the screen went blank, and I had to reboot my phone to get the screen back on.  I formally complained and was promised a call back.  It didn’t happen.  I escalated to the company owners, and a few days later had a long call with a company director .

The upshot was that they’d send another courier to collect the phone and repair the new fault.  This time, things went smoothly, the repair team confirmed it was a simple error that should have been picked up in QA (but wasn’t.)  Annoyingly, despite providing my passcode, the repair folks claimed that as I had not provided it this was the reason for the secondary issue.  The phone was being returned to me, but again to my home address, rather than my work address.  Add on another day to re-schedule the courier delivery, and eventually, over a month later, I get my phone back.  In the end, the company offered a goodwill gesture to compensate for the issues, but I’d much rather have had the matter sorted much sooner!

In this experience, there are so many errors and so many opportunities to fix things – better ownership, proactive follow up, honesty and openness, an escalation flow that works, keep your promise – all told, I count around 15 items that were within the company’s control where the ball was dropped.  Shortage of parts, supplier delays or unexpected events cannot be controlled, but when things do go wrong, owning up and owning the issues will make the whole experience a lot less painful.  Time to run through what happens in your experience and how your team handle service recovery, perhaps?

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