Archive for the ‘service recovery’ Category

Service Recovery – The Seven Step Process

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Despite our best efforts to efficiently organize our operation and train employees, situations will inevitably arise when customers/guests/members are dissatisfied or unhappy with service and/or products offered.  Whether we feel the problem is legitimate or unwarranted is of no consequence.  The customer is not satisfied and our only concern is changing the outcome by making a speedy and gracious recovery to his or her complete satisfaction.

To better aid employees in making a gracious recovery, we have developed the following Seven Step Process, which can be divided into two distinct phases.  Steps 1 through 4 constitute The On-the-Spot Fix, while steps 5 through 7 make up The Long-Term Repair aimed at correcting the underlying cause of the service failure.

Therefore, when a customer approaches you with a complaint or concern, here’s what you do:

The On-the-Spot Fix

1.   Focus – stop what you’re doing and focus entirely on the customer and what he is saying.

2.   Listen – carefully to fully understand the nature of the problem.  Recognize that the underlying problem is not always the one that is being brought to your attention; for example, the complaint may be about the food, but the real issue is slow service.  Sometimes you have to read between the lines or recognize the issue is larger or maybe different than the one being complained about.

3.   Apologize – a sincere apology is absolutely necessary.  We (the establishment) and you (personally) are sorry for any service failure, so we should never be shy about or slow to fully apologize.  After apologizing, tell the customer what you are going to do to correct the problem.  If the customer still seems dissatisfied, enquire what we might do to make it right.

4.   Make It Right – quickly, efficiently, and discreetly (to avoid any possible embarrassment to the customer).

The Long-Term Repair

5.   Assurance – after the situation has been made right, approach the customer (when convenient) and let him know that the matter will be addressed formally by management.

6.   Notification – if the failure is serious enough or the customer does not seem fully satisfied, notify your supervisor, department head, or manager on duty so she can also approach the individual to discuss the situation and apologize.

7.   Report – When you have time, but no later than the end of your shift, fill out a Service Issue Resolution, HRI Form 180, describing the problem, your assessment of the underlying cause, your efforts to recover, and the member’s mood after recovery.  This form is used to more formally address the problem and, in the case of a private club, gives the General Manager an opportunity to call the member after the fact to apologize again and discuss the issue further.

Unfortunately in our business, there will always be mistakes and failures, but what has gone wrong is done and is not nearly as important as what we do next.  Managers should discuss recovery techniques with staff frequently and share stories of both successful and unsuccessful recoveries so that everyone can learn from our experiences.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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Are You’re Service Apologies at Risk?

Monday, February 4th, 2013

In Service Recovery – The Seven Step Process we outlined a method by which employees can make a gracious and effective recovery from any service failure.  Step 3 of this process is the apology.  As we say, “A sincere apology is absolutely necessary.  We the establishment and you the employee are sorry for any service failure, so we should never be shy about or slow to fully apologize.”

While it never occurred to me that employees should be taught how to apologize, I caught two items this past week – one on television and the other on the Internet – that made me realize that there are “apologies” and then there are “effective apologies.”

Here’s the detail:  Laurie Puhn, a relationship mediator, appeared on a cable news network to critique the recent apology of Steve Jobs for problems with the newest Apple iphone’s signal reception.  In her comments, Ms. Puhn said that there are four elements to an effective apology:

  1. Don’t minimize your failing or error.  Make a big deal out of it – as it is to the unhappy customer/ guest/member.  Say something like, “Mrs. Smith, I’m so sorry our slow service delayed you . . .”
  2. Apologize for the inconvenience caused.  “. . . I realize how much we have inconvenienced you and your guest.”
  3. Offer something to make amends.  “As a further apology, I won’t be charging you for your orders.”
  4. Say that you hope to have the opportunity to re-earn their trust.  “I hope you’ll come back after your tennis match so I can serve you properly.”

A few days later an Internet headline “The Perfect Apology – The ONE Word That Destroys It!” caught my eye.  I followed the link to Kate Nasser’s The People-Skills Coach.  Here’s what she had to say:

“As The People-Skills Coach, I start this post with the assumption that you are willing to take ownership of the impact your actions and words have on others. You are ready to deliver the perfect apology!

Well the perfect apology is found in simple sincerity and the ONE word that destroys it is … IF

  • I am sorry IF I hurt you.  IF?  Do you own it or not?  Do you care to rebuild my trust or not?
  • I am sorry IF that came across as …  IF?  You are aware that it came across badly so why waver?
  • We are sorry IF we have not met your business needs.  IF?   We wouldn’t be discussing it otherwise.

Your intentions don’t matter much if a team member or a customer is offended by what you have said or done. Rebuild the trust with a sincere apology as soon as you are aware of his/her reaction.

 

 

Replace IF with THAT or FOR and see the difference.

  • I am sorry THAT I hurt you.
  • I am sorry FOR the impact this had on you.
  • I am sorry THAT came across as …
  • We are sorry THAT we have not met your business needs. We will …

Why does this little change make a big difference to others? Because it is clear that you are putting their needs ahead of your pride. Simple sincerity makes for the perfect apology.”

It’s clear from these two news items that apologies may not be the simple matter we’d imagine.  When teaching your employees the Service Recovery Process, take a few extra minutes to teach them to make perfect, effective apologies.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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