The digital era has brought with its pros and cons, with companies and individuals alike being able to communicate faster with a wider reach. In the recent past, it has become essential for businesses to become adept at offering quality service and responsiveness in cases of service failure.
A disgruntled client can with a few keystrokes or video accomplish the level of destruction by Kamakazi pilots in the second world war to a brand image.
A good case study of such an instance is the story of Dave Carrol who penned the song “United Breaks Guitars.” after unsuccessfully engaging the airline for a number of months with no response. The video was uploaded on Youtube and to cut the long story short the stock of the company was negatively affected apparently dropping by 10 per cent. This happened in 2008 an era where social media was still in its infancy showing the importance of good customer service.
In this age where digital transformation has become the catchphrase, it is essential to have the right mix of click (digital interaction) and mortar (human/physical interaction. The covid pandemic has resulted in more digital interaction and a greater need for service excellence by enterprises. It not uncommon for organisations to have instances where service failure occurs i.e., failing to meet the service promise.
In such instances, organisations should have measures in place to manage such situations to ensure client retention and protect the brand. I will highlight some of the area’s organisations should focus on this.
Acknowledge the Service Failure / Product malfunction: It is critical to acknowledge the gap in the service delivery and take action to rectify the gap. A simple apology goes a long way in mending fences. The defensive approach where corporate’s sandbag and sometimes threaten legal action will only add fuel to the fire. This is applicable whether one is running a corner store or a multinational company.
Have a clearly laid Service Recovery policy: It is very interesting that many organisations have very elaborate policies on their service promise and no service recovery policy. The policy should categorize the nature of queries and the relevant contact persons for resolution. It should also empower frontline employees to make on the spot decisions for simple queries to ensure effectiveness.
Actively seeking out feedback from clients: It is essential to be continually collect data from clients on their views on the service or product quality. This information can be collected by online surveys and focus groups among other tools. In this digital age, social media listening and monitoring is a key element in this mix This allows marketers to track the industry trends and conversations around their brands. The use of social media tools may act as a good barometer of the sentiment around the brand and enable corrective action or influence the conversations around the brand.
Actively seeking out feedback from employees: The best person to give input on how to eliminate service gaps is the frontline staff who deal with customers on a day-to-day basis. The leadership team should create an environment that allows for easy communication at all levels. This should be coupled with the execution of the feedback into tangible service or product improvements.
This list is not exhaustive but, a good start for the organization aiming to improve service delivery. In today’s environment, customer brand experience is more important than ever and it is vital to have a plan in place when service failure occurs. In the next article, we will delve into the causes of service failure.
by Nyasha Tatenda Maturure
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