Service Recovery: Turning Bad into Good

When something is going wrong, you can often sense it. Call it intuition, gut feeling, or observation. We’ve all walked into a room and, at one time or another, knew something was not going right. From that point, you can either ignore the problem or switch into recovery mode.

Service recovery is the basically the practice of turning a dissatisfied patient or problematic situation into positive experience. It’s an important step in the customer service process and can mean the different between a good or bad score on your next HCAHPS survey.

Face it and replace it.

Much like crisis communication, when you know something is not right, speak up and hit the problem directly. Just call out the elephant in the room to figure out exactly what the problem is.

Be understanding.

After hearing the patient out, acknowledge their feeling. For example, you can reply with, “I know it must be frustrating for you to wait this long for an important test. How are you feeling right now?”

By speaking into the problem, people have an opportunity to express themselves and release the anxiety they are feeling. Otherwise, if kept bottled up, the tension might mound. If they have the ability to express themselves, and you listen with patience and understanding, then you can also receive the information you need to find a solution.

Do something.

Once you’ve learned what the problem is, try to find a solution for them. So if they have been waiting for a long period of time for a test, you might respond with, “I’m not sure why you have been waiting for this period of time, but what I can do is find out what is the hold up and see what I can do to push this along.”

Don’t promise something you cannot commit to. Just state the facts and let them know you will find out what is the matter. If at all possible, make the solution. It’s also important to follow-up with the patient to let them know what you discovered and what is being done.

A service recovery process is essential to any customer service program. Leadership must be on-board and team members must be empowered to make solutions where applicable. What is your internal process?