You may already know that creating a service recovery strategy is a multi-layered process. While ensuring the process is fair, sincere and compensation adequate, studies have shown that compensation is a poor substitute for a good recovery process. The key to service recovery is ensuring speedy service.
A recent study by Mattila and Wirtz analyzed service breakdown and service recovery— specifically at how speedy service recovery, compensation, and apologies, affected customer satisfaction. When a service failure is revealed, an immediate response is required to ensure successful service recovery. Regardless of how or when the failure is identified, studies indicate that recovery outcomes (like compensation), procedures (speed of recovery), and interactional treatment (an apology) all have a combined effect on post‐recovery satisfaction.
More importantly, it was noted that speedy service plays a critical part in successful service recovery — i.e. the quicker businesses react to a negative experience, the higher the satisfaction, regardless of compensation or apology. An apology and speedy recovery increased customer satisfaction more than compensation and speedy recovery. This suggests that while customers value compensation above all, a speedy service recovery — the process itself — and sincere apology leads to greater satisfaction, than simply buying back guest loyalty. The highest customer satisfaction levels were observed when apologies, compensation, and speedy service recovery were combined.
Customer service expert Robert W. Lucas agrees, stated that the best service recovery strategy is to identify the cause of the service breakdown and remedy the problem immediately.
In order to capitalize on speed in service recoveries, strategies need to be developed, implemented and updated regularly to ensure they are working as effectively as possible. Here are some questions that managers should be asking when evaluating their service recovery strategy:
- How do I minimize the cost while increasing the effectiveness of our service recovery strategy?
In order for your strategy to be sustainable, it must be cost effective. Before implementing a service recovery strategy, you should have a clear understanding of the resources you have, the resources you need, and your budget. To maximize your most important resource, your employees, they should undergo additional service recovery training— specifically, training them in accordance with the new strategy. Moreover, after implementation, every effort should be tracked and analyzed. Through this, hoteliers can gain a greater insight into what’s working, what’s not, and change accordingly. This will ensure future success, and the ability to pinpoint problem areas— and immediately remedy them.
- What are my most common service failures? And how can I reduce the frequency they occur at?
There are plenty of ways for hotels to determine their most common service failures. One being, reading and studying your online reviews. While the majority of customers may not feel comfortable voicing their concerns in person, more and more guests are flocking to voice their frustrations online. Though a negative online review is not the most ideal situation, they do provide some valuable insight. By reading your negative online reviews, you can deduct your common service failures— the number of reviews about a certain topic (ex. slow check-in) reflects the prevalence of the problem.
The frontline staff could also be a useful resource in determining the most common service failures, as they have constant contact with the guests. They should be trained to ask guests about their experience during important touch-points and to generally reach out to guests during their stay. Some guests may not feel comfortable bringing the issue up themselves, so having attentive staff may give them the push they needed.
Lastly and arguably most importantly, you should have a means in place to track and analyze the service failure data. Through using concrete information, you can determine your most common service failures with certainty.
While every hotel is different, you cannot create a service recovery strategy without first knowing your service failures. Only once you have a clear understanding of what the most common service failures are and why they occur, you can determine how to reduce their frequency.
To learn more about how you can increase your guest satisfaction scores, read our recent post “How to Increase Guest Satisfaction Scores through Technology”
- What tools are available that can assist in addressing service failures before they are shared online?
There are plenty of tools available for hoteliers, however, not all tools ensure effective in-stay service recovery. With that in mind, the most common in-stay service recovery tools revolve around SMS messaging — which allows guests 24/7 contact with the frontline staff. However, the nature of these tools is always request based. Frankly, SMS messaging tools are very limiting and do not give any understanding of the guests true feelings or experience.
Solutions like Helix by MicroMetrics solve this very prevalent problem. Helix goes beyond the superficial request based tools, and gives hotels an accurate understanding of guests experiences in real time. Through this, hotel staff can solve the root problem, not the symptoms. By completing and thoroughly resolving guest issues in-stay, guests will feel understood and valued — and share only positive reviews online!
These questions form the basis for creating (or reviving an older) service recovery strategy. Tools are a key element of this service recovery strategy — and new technology has enabled and empowered guest satisfaction in ways never before seen. As more and more guests rely on mobile devices to communicate, leveraging this interactivity is key to mastering your service breakdown and service recovery — all while ensuring speedy service recovery.