Here at ClearlyRated we spend a significant amount of time studying, practicing, and discussing the art of service recovery – both internally and with our business clients. After all, identifying service issues is only half the battle when it comes to maximizing the value of your client satisfaction survey program.

The fact is, what you do once a service issue has been identified is far more indicative of the ROI of your client satisfaction initiative. And there are few theories that demonstrate this quite as well as the Service Recovery Paradox.

What is the Service Recovery Paradox?

The “Service Recovery Paradox” (or SRP) is a behavioral model which suggests you can win more loyalty from your clients after they’ve experienced a service failure with your firm.

“Malarkey!” “Shenanigans!” “No way!”

I’ll be the first to admit that this dynamic seems bass-ackwards. But here’s the twist: the SRP has nothing to do with the service failure itself – instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with how your firm recovers from that service failure.

What SRP means for your firm

In the world of B2B service, “customers” are really clients and accounts you fought hard to win and have worked even harder to build trust with over time. And because you rely on these clients for recurring revenue and referrals, a service failure is high stakes. Fortunately, this means your clients have skin in the game too – they won’t be excited about leaving you for a competitor, even in the face of a service failure.

But try for a moment to consider a service failure as an opportunity – a rare chance to demonstrate more intimately what it means to work with your firm, how committed you are to that client relationship, and the lengths you’ll go to in order to fix a problem – all things you don’t necessarily get to do when things are going seamlessly right.  

With that in mind, you’ll start to realize that SRP means you have the opportunity to go beyond “resolving” a service failure or “fixing” an issue to “keep” clients happy. With the right approach, you can create a remarkable experience – one that elevates your clients’ perception of your firm; that goes beyond keeping them happy. When executed well, you have the opportunity to leverage service failures to create impassioned and vocal client advocates for your firm.

3 rules for capitalizing on SRP

  1. Accept that you’re not perfect. Put differently – accept that you, your team, and your organization will have service failures. That doesn’t mean you should stop striving to provide great service 100% of the time, rather – by accepting (even expecting) that you will encounter issues will help create an organizational ethos that supports and normalizes the practice of service recovery.
  2. Create, preach, and execute a company-wide plan for service recovery. It’s essential that everyone in your organization understands what’s expected of them when handling a service issue or interacting with an unhappy client. Remember, “how” you handle the situation is just as important as “what” you do to resolve it. Check out our 10 step framework for flawless service recovery for additional inspiration.
  3. Actively work to identify any and all service issues. When’s the last time you asked your clients whether they are satisfied with your service offering? Did you ask them in a way that encourages candid feedback? How many of them did you ask? At ClearlyRated we believe that every service quality and reputation initiative starts with a well-designed client satisfaction survey – one that is sent to EVERY one of your client contacts*. Keep in mind that your beliefs about your firm’s service quality won’t always line up with your clients’ perceptions – and the latter are far more important when it comes to capitalizing on the Service Recovery Paradox.

*72% of B2B clients are more willing to give feedback via online survey than in-person, and 63% say they are more candid when providing feedback online.

Want more service recovery tips?

  • Sign up for updates from ClearlyRated (the form is to your right on desktop or below my bio on mobile). We send periodic research and best practices to our list – no spam here!
  • Read our “10 step mantra for flawless service recovery” (and share it with your team). This is your chance to elevate to “service recovery ninja” status.
  • Revel in my CEO’s shameless transparency about the pitfalls of not taking action (FitBits and fitness fails involved). I promise there’s a business lesson in there.
  • Contact our team to learn how ClearlyRated can help your firm boost reputation and differentiate on remarkable service through the power of NPS® (we swear it’s possible). Or to just chat – we love meeting new folks who are passionate about service excellence!