The Service Recovery Counts More
The following post, originally titled "The Recovery Counts More than the Fumble" was published via LinkedIn on September 1, 2016. It was intended as a follow-up to a story I had written the previous day about a hilariously terrible customer experience I had at TD Bank. That story went viral on LinkedIn and caught the attention of TD's most senior leaders... and my follow-up story describes what they did to make things right.
Before you read the follow-up, I encourage you to read the post on which it was based.
But even if you don't, the five customer service lessons I outline below are still worth a read.
Nobody is perfect, and everybody makes mistakes.
And because companies employ us very fallible humans, customer service mishaps are bound to happen. The goal of any customer-first organization, therefore, shouldn't be to never make a mistake; it should be to empower front-line workers as best they can to provide stellar customer service, then have systems and mechanisms in place to make things right when the mistakes inevitably occur.
Yesterday I posted an article detailing a less-than-stellar experience I had earlier this week with TD Bank. (You can read all about it here.)
I didn't write this piece because I was angry with the bank. Sure, I was moderately disappointed that a bank error made a decade ago was going to prevent me from taking advantage of the bank's current "free TV" promotion, but being disappointed isn't the same thing as being angry. Truth be told, I don't really need another TV in my house: had things worked out, the new TV was going to live in my basement gym, and that room rarely gets used. (So why bother? I figured out that by withdrawing a few thousand dollars from my line of credit and keeping it in my new TD account for a few months, I could get a brand-name 40" SmartTV for less than $50 in interest charges -- even if I subsequently decided to close my account after a few months -- and thought, "Why not?")
I wrote the piece because I thought the situation represented a terrific "teachable moment" for any person or organization that strives for excellent customer service.
These days, the bar for "excellent customer service" is incredibly high. Customers don't compare the service they get from one bank with the service they get from another, they compare their bank's service to the type of service they get at a Starbucks, a Costco, or a Disney Store. Companies that excel at putting their customers first raise the bar for everybody, and so it's a constant race to keep up with ever-increasing expectations. As I wrote in my last piece, the very best retailers understand that to win in the market, they can't just "deliver"; they need to consistently over-deliver, because that's what customers these days have come to expect.