Business Management

A checklist to support your staff with service recovery

Image Business Management



Olivier Verschelde

Head of Service DNA - Senior Consultant at EHL Advisory Services

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Satisfying complaining customers is challenging, especially when dealing with the increasing number of customers with culturally diverse backgrounds. Creating a service recovery strategy is a multi-step process. In the eyes of many consumers, effective service recovery is dependent on several factors. Here a checklist to support frontline staff with service recovery



    A customer does not want to be given the scripted “understanding” response to a complaint or comment. They want someone to actively listen. Listening to a customer and making sure that even if the complaint is not something fixable, the customer’s voice is heard, is very important.


    A sincere apology works wonders in creating happy, loyal customers, and confirms your willingness to take responsibility for the customer’s problem. A simple, “we apologize, we hope you can forgive us”, can go a lon way to mending the client relationship and restoring trust in your business.


    Listen, acknowledge, validate and apologize to your customers when there is an issue. Sometimes, people really do just need to vent, and rarely should a complaint be taken personally. Learn to acknowledge the customer’s issue, and train employees to do the same. It helps your customer to know that someone understands their concerns. Let them know you understand the way they are feeling and apologize even if you don’t feel you need to.

    Act swiftly

    The faster you find a reasonable solution that everyone can agree on, the happier your customer will be and you get to breathe a sigh of relief.

    Give your customers control

    Options mean freedom. Recognize the psychological importance of choice and capitalize on the tendency of consumers to prefer multiple options over a single path because options give them control.

    Go above and beyond

    While it’s important to follow your company protocols and guidelines, it’s also important to be able to go the extra mile for your customers.

    Follow up

    Contacting your customer after finding a solution for them is the icing on the cake for them. It lets them know that their concerns are at the top of their mind, and it’s another way to show that you care. During this follow-up, apologize again and make sure you’ve taken care of everything they needed.

    Managing complaints is an inherent risk of doing business, you never know how the customer will react and how you will be able to meet their needs. That’s why having a clear checklist for service recovery is like having clear steps and risk management guidance.

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