Posted by: jmwilsonmga | January 15, 2013

The Art of Service Recovery

Errors are made every day by all of us despite the best intentions of giving top-notch customer service.  No matter how polite, helpful, accommodating and responsive a company is, if someone on the team drops the ball – THAT is often what is remembered.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Service RecoveryIf you and your company have a good Service Recovery process in place, it can help to restore a customer’s perception of your company to what it was before the “incident”.

This is something I am passionate about and became very evident of its need during a recent stay at a well-known hotel chain. Upon check in, I was impressed with the greeting and service from the front desk staff. They even had a room ready for early check-in. Every staff member I encountered during my stay greeted me sincerely and with a smile.

About an hour after checking in, I returned to my room to do some work. As I sat at the desk, I heard some noises outside my door. To my complete shock and surprise, I saw my room door handle begin to move and suddenly an older gentleman appeared with a wife and week’s worth of luggage in tow!  Thank goodness I wasn’t in the shower!!

I quickly called the front desk to let them know of the mix up. I was told that I was “supposed to be in room 122”.  I said “Well…., I’m in room 128 as I was directed and with a key that gained me entry to this room”!  With no apology, I was told that someone would be down to escort the folks who were waiting patiently outside my door.  Five minutes later, a young man came to my door with updated keys and a smile, but again, no apology.

That brief irritating experience virtually replaced the good impressions made by the people I had encountered earlier. 

Not as much for the unsettling experience of having someone walk into my room but the simple fact that no one recognized that I had been inconvenienced -and- no one bothered to APOLOGIZE!

With a Service Recovery plan, here is what they could have done to have made this customer satisfied after their “goof”:

  1. Apologize right away – Upon hearing about the mixup, the front desk attendant should have acknowledged my situation with a simple apology. “Ms. Baldwin, I’m so sorry for the mixup”.
  2. Don’t make ANY excuses or look to place blame – The customer doesn’t care who screwed up or why (or what room she was supposed to be in). We just want the problem fixed.
  3. Find a solution – Whether you have the power to fix it or not, the customer is looking to you. Even if the person who took my call isn’t the one who made the mistake, they are the one in my eyes, responsible for fixing it and turning around my now tarnished impression.
  4. Follow up – Make sure the customer is taken care of and take another opportunity to apologize. After sending someone to bring me replacement keys, I should have received a follow-up call from the front desk to be sure I had received them – taking one more opportunity to apologize and leave me feeling good about the experience.

We are human. We make mistakes. Regardless of how big or small, they will happen. Rather than dwell on the “Who did it?”, focus on the “How can I fix It?”

Sometimes the efforts made to fix an error stand out as some of the best customer experiences!

Cathy-Baldwin-March-2012About the Author : Cathy Baldwin, Marketing Manager

Cathy has been a member of the J.M. Wilson Team since 1990 and currently serves as the Marketing Manager.  She oversees the marketing team, which provides marketing support for our underwriting teams in commercial transportation, property/casualty, professional liability, personal lines, and surety.  Cathy loves the variety in her position as marketing manager.  She has the opportunity to work with everyone at J.M. Wilson, our agents, and the companies we represent.  In her free time, Cathy loves to work out at CrossFit – AZO.  She also enjoys reading and listening to music – her favorites range from Neil Diamond to Led Zeppelin.

Connect with Cathy on LinkedIn

Disclaimer :  This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or proffered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon such information.  This article is the opinion of the author and is not supported or endorsed by J.M. Wilson.  It should not be relied upon and may contain inaccuracies or content may have changed over time, contact your underwriter for the most current and accurate information.  Any comments or responses are the opinions of their authors.  Content on this site is believed to be covered under Fair Use.

Copyright 2013 J.M. Wilson Corporation


  1. Great article!

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