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Guest Blog: Does Your Company Use Service Recovery Strategies?

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Mike Schoultz shares a bad customer service experience and how we can learn and recover from these experiences. I agree that you must be accountable and use prepared strategies to deal with these bad situations. – Shep Hyken It is pardonable to be defeated […]

This week on our Friends on Friday guest blog post, my colleague Mike Schoultz shares a bad customer service experience and how we can learn and recover from these experiences. I agree that you must be accountable and use prepared strategies to deal with these bad situations. Shep Hyken

It is pardonable to be defeated but never to be surprised.

  • Frederick the Great

Frederick was not talking about customer service, was he? But this quote could very well apply to customer service recovery strategies, yes?

Be prepared is the motto of the Boy Scouts. Also applies to just about everything else we do in life, especially in the business of customer service.

Does your customer service prepare for contingencies? Contingencies and strategy designs for when things don’t go as planned?

I’ll use a story to explain why I believe it is essential.

This is a story about poor customer service and a resulting bad customer experience at a restaurant. A large group of business people had arranged to get together for lunch to celebrate a colleague’s promotion. Reservations for the group of 18 people were made several days in advance.

Arrival at the restaurant was on time. However, despite having made the reservation, they had to wait 20 minutes before they could be seated. Once seated and menus had been handed out, the group was made to wait again. Everyone was hungry and ready to order. They also had a limited amount of time before everyone needed to head back to work.

Finally a waitress arrived to take everyone’s order.

After waiting for longer than seemed necessary, and observing other tables get their meals ahead of theirs, the group’s meals arrived, except for one. He didn’t receive his meal until most of the others were finished.

A complaint was lodged with the manager, with no success. He was totally indifferent to the situation. He offered no apology and, after being asked to comp that meal, refused to do so.

This bad experience resulted in the group writing a letter to the head office of the restaurant chain. They detailed the experience and mentioned that in addition to the 18 customers they had lost directly — everyone would tell their friends they would not recommend visiting that restaurant as well.

A few days later one of the party received a letter of apology in the mail and a $40 gift card. However, they couldn’t find anyone willing to return to the restaurant to use it due to that bad experience. No surprise there.

What should be learned?

First of all, bad things happen in every business. But good contingency planning can usually eliminate most of them. For example, you need to decide how large of a group you can handle on top of your normal crowd. If you can’t handle a group of 18 with your normal great service, then you owe it to the potential customers to let them know what extra wait time would be required. Or, just apologize and don’t accept the reservations.

The key to keeping customers happy is through honest communication, being accountable for the poor experience, and being prepared to deliver what you promise.

Then, if things go wrong, you should have service recovery strategies in place, with everyone prepared and empowered to act. Prepared and empowered to make things right — on the spot. Research tells us that when we fix a problem on the spot that loyalty actually increases more than if the customer is simply satisfied.

So rather than seeing complaining customers as a problem — start seeing them as an opportunity to demonstrate your service recovery strategies as a way to build customer loyalty.

For example, if there was to be a delay in the preparation of meals, then the customer needs to be informed. Informed ahead of time. Offering something to help address the situation also helps — in this case perhaps a basket of bread or something else could have been offered while they were kept waiting.

In this case, the effort was too little and way too late. They couldn’t regain the trust of the customers they lost through one bad experience. And unhappy customers tell everyone. Not good for any business.

Like this short blog? Follow Digital Spark Marketing on LinkedIn or bookmark us for 3-4 short, interesting blogs, stories per week.

Mike Schoultz has spent the majority of his career as a business leader in marketing and executive management. Four years ago he founded Digital Spark Marketing dedicated to improving the success of small to medium-sized businesses. His success equation includes customer service and experience, creative marketing, innovation and adaptability, and of course, people.

For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to


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