Blog/ Guest Experience

4 Ways To Recover From Service Failures

“Let me get my manager for you.”

It’s a statement that frustrates guests, often frustrates managers, and is a sign that the frontline staff does not have the ability, whether the tools or skillset, to solve a problem for a guest or recover from a service failure. 

In this blog, we will speak about how to empower staff to avoid overuse of this sentence, and we will discuss four ways you can train your staff to recover from service failure. The best part? They don’t involve giving away any inventory, and they’re free! 

Employee empowerment is not about giving away free stuff

When trying to resolve the frustration of the “let me get my manager” statement, the question of employee empowerment arises. However, employee empowerment often leads to the question, “Should we allow them to give away free stuff to guests? What if they give away too much? Let’s just have them always get a manager if they want to give something away.”

This usually comes with a positive outlook. The business does not want to give too much control to the frontline staff for fear that it will be abused and that the staff will take advantage of their power rather than take responsibility.

But wait. Why does employee empowerment always have to be about giving away free stuff? These things are not the same. Employee empowerment has to do with fixing a problem. Sometimes, that means tangible compensation, but by following the LAST model, this is often not the case.

Service recovery can be achieved in many ways

Think about the amount of time that can be saved, the manager’s resources that can be put to better use, and the amount of guest satisfaction that can be salvaged if service recovery wasn’t looked at as giving things away for free but taking the initiative to rectify a poor experience before it turns into a negative review that can cost you thousands of dollars in lost business. Service recovery is not something you give away because it isn’t a gift.  Service recovery is the compensation for a service failure that caused a guest to have an experience that fell below the expectation that you set for them.  While occasionally it may have monetary value, you also have an excellent advantage to tap into the fact that you provide an intangible experience, which means that something you might typically charge for has no actual cost to your business or, at the very least - a minimal cost that is insignificant compared to the problem that it fixes.

When you recognize that service recovery can make you money rather than cost you, it no longer becomes about giving things away for free; it’s about trusting your staff to do the right thing and do whatever it takes to make it right.  Instead of asking, “What should we let our staff give away for free?” ask, “How can we empower our staff so that they can take care of any problem they come across?”  This change in mindset will benefit your staff, your guests, and your business as a whole.

Four ways your staff can recover from service failures without giving inventory away

Every situation is different, so sometimes, one of these methods will suffice, but other times, the situation may call for a combination of these methods. 

1. Acknowledge the issue and apologize sincerely

Immediately acknowledge the service failure and take responsibility for it. Ignoring or denying the problem will only worsen the situation.

Offer a sincere and genuine apology to the affected guests. A heartfelt apology can go a long way in diffusing frustration and disappointment.

2. Listen actively and communicate transparently

Give the guest a chance to express their frustration and concerns. Active listening shows that you value their feedback and are committed to resolving it.

Communicate transparently and keep guests informed about the steps to address the issue and how hard you’re trying to resolve it. Transparency builds trust.

3. Empathize with the guest

Show empathy by understanding the customer's feelings and perspective. 

Let them know that you understand how the service failure has inconvenienced them and that you’re trying everything you can to find a resolution for them.

4. Provide timely, practical solutions

Offer practical solutions to rectify the situation as quickly as possible. If feasible, fix the issue on the spot or provide an alternative solution that meets the guests’ needs.

Some solutions that will not cost you include:

  • Priority access/VIP entry
  • A complimentary upgrade
  • Photo opportunity with an in-venue character
  • Additional loyalty points/credits
  • Free arcade play

Service recovery isn’t just about rectifying the immediate issue

Remember, recovering from service failures isn't just about fixing the issue in front of you; it's also an opportunity to enhance customer trust and loyalty by demonstrating your commitment to resolving problems and improving overall service quality.

Before defaulting to giving away free inventory, empower your staff to deal with service failures by actively listening, empathizing with the guest, acknowledging the issue, sincerely apologizing, and providing timely and practical solutions.