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Best Service Recovery Strategies In 2021

Kate William

8 min read

Angry and unhappy customers are a normal part of every business. It’s what happens when the service quality fails to meet a customer’s expectations. An organization should have well-thought-out plans for service failures, starting from what to do for a failed delivery to a defective product sent to a customer or a faulty onboarding process. All of these can seriously affect business prospects if left unsolved. 

What do you need during such instances? Service recovery strategies.

What are service recovery strategies?

Service recovery is the act of getting in touch with a customer to address their negative experience with your business. Service recovery strategies aim to find out customers who have faced such issues and try to retain them. For that, you need to rectify the identified problem.

Service recovery strategies aim to ensure that customers come out of the situation with a good perspective about your business.

Service recovery paradox: Research says that customers who get their service failures resolved quickly are more likely to stay loyal than customers who have never faced issues.

When do you need to implement service recovery?

For businesses, it is the perfect chance to turn a mistake into an opportunity. Here are a few occasions when companies need to implement service recovery strategies:

  • An angry customer during an interaction with a customer service agent
  • A customer complaining about their shopping experience on social media
  • A scathing review on a third party website by a customer
  • Getting less-than-desirable feedback on the feedback form by a customer
  • A low score on the NPS survey
  • Poor rating for an agent on a CSAT survey
  • When a customer sends an email saying that they did not find the service or the product appealing 

What are the seven service recovery strategies?

Stage 1: Make the service fail-safe

Let’s put it this way – if you’re teaching someone to drive, you first want to make sure that the car works properly. Thus the first strategy is to make sure that the service delivery is flawless. This requires proper commitment towards the customers from the management down

Stage 2: Track complaints

Would you believe it if we told you that most customers do not bother to complain? Instead, 91% of them will switch to a competitor straight away. 

Therefore, if you want to retain your customers, you need to encourage them to send complaints. Whether that’s through QR code stickers, a toll-free helpline, or a social media handle, you should make it easy for the customers to contact you. In addition, feedback tools like our Case Management feature help you track the complaints and assign them to your colleague for immediate resolution. 

Stage 3: Take immediate action

Why are people willing to wait in line for a movie but not a complaint? That’s because the first line promises entertainment at the end, while a complaint is just another chore.

So it’s no surprise that long waiting times can cost you at least 75% of your customers. It will only increase their frustration when they know that it will take you at least a few hours to respond. So the quicker you resolve the issue, the better the chances of successful service recovery. 

Let’s imagine that, despite your best efforts, it will take a while to resolve the issue. In that case, make sure that you inform the customer about it and tell them why. Also, outline the steps that you are taking to solve the problem. In most cases, this kind of acknowledgment will cool the customer down quickly. 

Stage 4: Explain the situation to the customer

In this stage, you need to let the customer understand why the service failure occurred in the first place.

Once they know what happened, they will be more than willing to forgive you for the issue. Ensure that you inform the customer about the situation with as much politeness and patience as possible.

Stage 5: Treat customers nicely

There are no ifs and buts there. At no point should a customer feel as if their issues are not getting the attention they deserve.

They need to know that you are doing everything within your power to fix the problems as quickly as possible. Therefore, they should focus on positive aspects like the speed and ease of issue handling, the promptness of the follow-ups, etc. If they have gone through many hassles, an extra or a freebie can help smooth over hurt feelings and restore the relationship.

Stage 6: Forge a strong relationship with customers

It is a fool-proof service recovery strategy that pays off long-term. When you have a strong relationship with customers, they will be more forgiving of your mistakes. Isn’t that how most relationships work too?

For a strong relationship with customers, they should feel that you will have their backs in case of a service issue. However, it cannot be a one-sided relationship at all. When they trust you implicitly, you need to ensure that you are worthy of their trust.

Stage 7: Customer experience after service recovery

The next stage is to determine what customers felt after the service recovery and what your business can learn from this experience.

Next, we recommend using experience management tools to understand the effectiveness of the service recovery experience. Service recovery tools like control charts, cause and effect diagrams, blueprinting, etc., help you maintain control of your recovery strategies.

What are the benefits of having efficient service recovery strategies?

1. Retains loyal customers

Effective service recovery strategies can change the attitude and behavior of the customers towards the organization. Customers who have been faithful to you will feel vindicated for sticking with you, and new customers will be more inclined to do business with you again.

For recovery strategies to be most effective, it is best to personalize them for different customer types.

2. Increases loyalty:

When there is a strong affinity for the customer towards an organization, they are more likely to purchase more. They are also easier to upsell and cross-sell.

With the right set of service recovery strategies, you will be able to develop this affinity. They will also not be swayed by price increases when convenience and good customer service are part of it.

3. Creates brand ambassadors:

Simply put, your customers are a built-in marketing channel. Some companies do service recovery so well that customers love to talk about it – leading to positive word-of-mouth.

What’s more, service recovery strategies are the perfect way to demonstrate that your brand stays true to your values. It will also make you seem reliable in terms of the product you sell and the service you offer. What business doesn’t benefit from that kind of street cred?

4. Troubleshooting service failures:

When there are so many processes at play, service failures at some point are a given. However, suppose some issues crop up repeatedly, like abandoned carts or customers churning after 30-50 days.

In that case, it’s a sign that something’s going wrong, and you need to improve your process. If you want specific data, you can ask customers what went wrong. For example, here’s a customer exit survey by SurveySparrow.


You can create similar surveys using your free account. Then, track the issues and look for trends or potential problems on your survey dashboard.

5. Increases customer satisfaction:

Probably one of the most under-rated and practical benefits of service recovery strategies: they will leave your customers satisfied.

Once your customers go through a service failure and see that you have handled it professionally, they will be happy. And happy customers are loyal customers.

What are the steps a business should take to build a service recovery team?

1. Involve the leadership team

When the leadership team is involved, it becomes easy to get access to all the resources required. However, to ensure that something like this is possible, the leadership team should know how much the business loses out when they let the negative experiences slide without taking any action.

2. Write down recovery criteria

It’s essential to understand when an interaction with a customer qualifies for service recovery. There are three criteria you need to remember: 

  • What is the priority and severity of the issue? Is it severe enough to require an immediate resolution?
  • Do you have an appropriate recovery strategy? 
  • Are your current resources enough to fix this issue? 

If yes, then do it. The recovery criteria can be changed when there are changes to your internal structure and preferences.

3. Start a service recovery team

If you want your service recovery strategies to bear fruit, you need to build a service recovery team that is well-equipped and well-trained. In some cases, it makes sense for customer agents to handle the service recovery cases because they already have the training. Otherwise, you need dedicated people to make your service recovery strategies a success.

4. Build a process:

You need to develop a service recovery process for different types of negative interactions. These provide guidelines for customer service recovery to handle issues with consistency.

For example, suppose the feedback is about the customer onboarding process for a SaaS company. In this case, the service recovery team should assist the sales team in solving the customer’s queries and leave the user in no doubt about the software’s value. They should be able to act quickly to resolve issues with minimal fuss for the customer.

5. Measure the impact of your service recovery strategies:

Once you have solved the issue, make sure that you reach out to the customer again. Ask them their opinion on your service recovery efforts. It has two advantages: you find out what you can do to improve the steps next time. Two, it makes the customer inadvertently focus on the positive experience they just had from you. This positive experience has a huge impact on customer loyalty, repeat purchases, and referrals.

Apart from just checking on one service recovery incident, you should know how you fare as a business overall. So ensure that you measure the entire service recovery funnel – from feedback ticket to successful service recovery.

Best practices for implementing effective service recovery strategies

No matter how good some system is, it needs to have the right conditions to work effectively. Let us look at some of the best practices for implementing service recovery strategies effectively.

1. Make feedback easy:

Many companies lose customers simply because they don’t know or have a specified channel to share complaints. Here’s where online survey tools like SurveySparrow can help because you can integrate surveys with your help channels, mail them or embed them in your website. Such tools let your customers share feedback 24/7.

2. Keep surveys at every interaction touchpoint:

In this day and age, your help channel might not be the first point of contact in case of trouble. For example, 47% of all customers will call out a brand on social media if they think it will make the brand pay attention to their problem.

That’s why it’s essential to discover all your interaction touchpoints and create personalized feedback surveys for each one – so that you can find the issue before it finds you. You can also send surveys via text or email at appropriate intervals. They will allow your customers to voice their feelings. 

3. Develop a culture where complaints are welcome:

Your culture should be such that each customer complaint is considered as an opportunity. Think of it this way: a customer complaint is your chance to make things right for them and also improve the process while you’re at it.

So your recovery procedures should be precise yet adaptable for a customer’s unique needs, and your service recovery team should know how to resolve complaints effectively yet humanely.

4. Be proactive in communication:

Every reasonable person knows that issues will crop up – what’s important is how you handle them.

Keeping this in mind, an unhappy user is irritated and is looking for ways to vent their frustration. So the best way to take it is to send an instant response. This simple action will save much strife for you.

Wrapping up…

In this article, we have talked about service recovery strategies, their benefits, best practices, and eight recovery strategies worth adopting. We have also discussed the steps a business should take to build a service recovery team.

This, in fact, is the most crucial strategy. Because what makes or breaks the situation is your employees. So train your employees effectively to handle any customer service problems that knock on your door. This way, you may have 99 problems, but service lapses aren’t one. And with technologies like machine learning and AI, service recovery strategies will evolve to be even more intuitive.

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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