Article

What is service recovery? 6 strategies and steps for success

Service recovery is the act of reaching out to customers who had a negative service experience to rectify the situation. Here are 6 service recovery steps and strategies.

By Rachel Bolsu, Marketing and content manager, Stella Connect

Published October 17, 2019
Last updated September 30, 2021

Contact centers collect a range of customer data, from common support questions to customer satisfaction surveys. However, they often lack the processes to take immediate action on this data.

Collecting real-time customer feedback enables service teams to instantly act on a negative interaction and save the relationship.

Don’t let your customer service team miss out on the opportunity to turn every negative interaction into a positive one.

Follow these six simple steps to kickstart service recovery in your organization.

What is service recovery?

Service recovery is the act of reaching out to customers who have had a negative service experience to rectify the situation. A good example of service recovery is Birchbox's Service Recovery Program. Birchbox agents are empowered to follow up with customers who rated their initial interaction poorly. This builds customer loyalty by turning a negative experience into a positive one.

Why is service recovery important?

According to Zendesk's 2021 Customer Experience Trends report, 80 percent of customers will leave after more than one disappointing service experience. So, if your customers have just two negative experiences with your support team, most of them will likely leave (and go to competitors)—which can have a devastating impact on your business.

80% of customers will leave after more than one disappointing service experienceZendesk's CX Trends report

Service recovery is important because it gives companies the opportunity to meet customer expectations and prevent a customer from potentially churning. It's a chance for the business to save a customer relationship and improve. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that people who complained or wrote negative comments about a brand on social media and received a response were more loyal afterward than those who never complained at all.

Many organizations already do some form of customer service recovery, but without a clear process in place, valuable opportunities can fall through the cracks. Fortunately, it has never been easier to streamline service recovery and make a measurable impact on your business.

Service recovery strategies and steps

Here are key strategies and steps in the service recovery process.

  1. Get leadership buy-in
  2. Establish recovery criteria
  3. Create your service recovery team
  4. Determine protocol
  5. Re-survey the customer
  6. Measure impact over time

1. Get leadership buy-in

When creating any new process, buy-in from the right people ensures access to the resources and support necessary to launch your program.

To get this buy-in, it’s important to show how much business could be lost from negative service interactions.

According to Zendesk's Customer Experience Trends Report, almost 50 percent of customers have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience.

The number of relationships salvaged by service recovery is a direct contributor to future revenue and customer retention. Leverage these metrics to show leaders the importance of building a service recovery program.

2. Establish recovery criteria

Consider your unique time, budget, and brand provisions as you establish the criteria around when to flag an interaction or customer complaint for service recovery.

For example, some companies might consider any rating below five stars as an opportunity for recovery. In other cases, especially if you have a small team, you may only be able to tackle strongly negative feedback and have to set a specific threshold to trigger a service recovery workflow.

Your recovery strategy is entirely dependent on your team’s resources and priorities and can easily be adjusted over time if you decide to scale the program.

3. Create your service recovery team

Once you’ve established your criteria, it’s important to decide who will be responsible for acting on service recovery tickets.

This decision will be informed by the specifics of your chosen service recovery threshold.

If you’ve set your service recovery for one or two-star interactions, you can assign all service recovery tickets to team leaders.

Alternatively, if you want to tackle all ratings under five stars, you may want to create a team entirely dedicated to service recovery. In some cases, it might make sense for the agents to handle the service recovery themselves. It all depends on your team size, overall objectives, and ticket volume.

4. Determine protocol

Set up a set of standards to help your service recovery triage different types of negative interactions. Categorize feedback with tags to help and use this to inform clear guidelines for each situation.

For example, if the feedback is around pricing, service recovery teams should be able to easily find and execute the standard protocol (whether it’s offering a refund, discount, or store credit).

A service recovery strategy should help ensure everyone knows exactly what to do for a specific situation and can act quickly.

5. Re-survey the customer

Once the issue is resolved, send a follow-up feedback request to measure the impact of your service recovery efforts.

Successful service recovery not only allows your team to measure and report on the impact of the program, but also gives the customer a chance to reflect on the positive service experience.

This positive feeling translates to brand loyalty, repeat purchases, and ideally brand advocacy within their network. As your service recovery operation scales, you can easily automate this process by triggering a new feedback request after a ticket is closed.

6. Measure impact over time

Closing the loop, especially when it comes to leadership buy-in, is key.

Measure the full-service recovery funnel by showing your customers’ journey from eligibility to successful recovery. This not only helps you and your team understand your impact, but demonstrates the ROI of your contact center by determining the number of at-risk customers who were retained.

Service recovery examples

Here are a few examples of situations when you might need to implement service recovery:

  • When a customer complains about their experience on social media
  • These days, one customer's complaint can be amplified and shared with many others. Suddenly, you're at the center of a trending conversation that could've been easily prevented had you just been prepared.

  • When an angry customer writes a review on a third party website, such as Yelp
  • When a customer leaves an agent a low score on a satisfaction survey
  • Agents might follow up with customers who rated their initial interaction poorly to rectify the situation.

  • When a customer is angry during an interaction
  • With AI, agents can implement proactive service recovery and predict customer satisfaction during an interaction, before a customer takes a satisfaction survey.

  • When a dissatisfied customer provides feedback on a feedback form
  • When a customer's expectation wasn't met. For example, they had to wait on hold longer than expected or repeat information they assumed the agent already knew.

Service recovery builds customer loyalty

With customer recovery, you can turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one.

Since launching their own service recovery programs, leading brands like Birchbox and Williams-Sonoma have seen measurable improvements in customer sentiment.

Don’t lose another customer, follow these six simple steps to introduce an effective service recovery program with business impact.