Services Marketing: Do You Know How To Recover From A Failure?

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No matter how hard a business tries, there will be times where their provided service will not meet customer expectations. When these events do occur it is in the firm’s best interests to make amends and improve from the issue. Effective recovery efforts can rectify situations and even turn them into positive experiences. Poor efforts to rectify or taking no action can take a disastrous toll on the business. With social media in full swing, customers now have a large platform to express their dissatisfaction. A perfect example of this would be Dave Carroll’s experience with United Airlines and his guitar, you can check out his song “United Breaks Guitars” on YouTube.

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Listen to and Involve Customers

Make sure you have a way to find out about any complaints or issues customers may have about your business. Without a formal method for conveying feedback, customers may turn to voice their opinions on other platforms without your knowledge. This leaves you without a chance to rectify the situation.

Rectification can take many different forms depending on how severe the customer’s expectation was not met. In some situations customers can be content with knowing they’ve been heard and having their feedback taken onboard. Other situations may require more effort to right wrongs with methods such as co-creation. Having customers participate in the resolution of the problem generally provides for a higher satisfaction level than them receiving any standard compensation.

Fair Solutions

When making amends customers wish to be treated fairly. In these situations there are two kinds of fairness involved: distributive and procedural. 

Distributive fairness is related to the amount of compensation given. Is the compensation a fair amount in relation to the perceived amount of loss from the service failure. A common example is when airplane flights are excessively delayed. Often airline companies will provide it’s customers with accommodation and meals until their flight is ready.

Procedural fairness is viewed by whether or not the procedure used to resolve the issue was fair. Customers tend to appreciate when it seems that a fair guideline is being followed. This provides for efficiency in resolving the matter and minimises stress on both parties.

Act Fast!

Don’t wait to take action. Your delayed reaction can be mistaken for not taking any. The longer you leave customers unsatisfied, the more negative their experience can get. This makes it more difficult to win them back in the future.

Additionally, customers with negative experiences are more likely to talk about it with more people that customers who have positive ones. By acting quick not only do you remedy negative issues, you prevent it from spreading.

Train and Empower Employees

As mentioned before, guidelines and training employees help prepare a business for service failure situations. However along with the set plan employees, especially customer facing ones, need to hold a certain amount of power to adapt these guidelines where it seems fit.

For example at a hotel, if a customers room isn’t ready the receptionist should have the authority to offer them compensation, such as giving them a different room temporarily or offering meals. Giving that employee the ability to take charge is much better than having to wait for someone with more authority come and fix the service failure.


Keeping customers happy should be one of your top goals, no matter if you provide a service or a product. Hopefully now you have an idea on how to be prepared for when a service failure occasion arises!

If you would like to read up on more potential ways to Transform Your Brand, have a look through our other journals here!

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