Disaster recovery Featured

11:26am EDT July 21, 2004
Today's companies plan for all kinds of disasters, both natural and manmade. They have wisely spent a lot of time, effort and money to make sure that they can be operational following a disaster.

But some of those companies may be overlooking a disaster which can be almost as destructive -- a customer service disaster.

We all hope that our employees are trained well enough and care enough to employ top-notch customer service skills. But even the best employee can make a mistake which damages your company's reputation. Remember, a customer will spread the word about a bad experience much faster than about a good one.

Some companies view these kinds of disasters as opportunities to not only recover from the mistake, but to wow the customer, winning back his or her loyalty. I can tell you from experience that this approach works.

Recently, a window air conditioner in our home was not working as it should. It cooled when set at 62 degrees, but not at a more normal operating temperature of 72.

We called the major department store that we purchased it from, which has a huge repair department. It sent someone out four times, and they failed to repair the unit every time.

After seeing the district manager in person, I was assured that the air conditioner would be repaired. It wasn't.

I called the company one more time. The district manager wasn't there, and I left a message. In the meantime, a supervisor scheduled us for service the next day (instead of my usual week-long wait). And, at last, a technician finally realized the problem and ordered a part. But the proactive manager called anyway and assured me that this time, if the part didn't fix it, the company would replace the unit.

As a customer I went from being very unhappy with the company to regaining my faith in it. So don't overlook this important operational aspect.

Develop and communicate a proactive, customer service disaster plan and you can keep customers you might otherwise have lost.