‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently’ – Warren Buffett.

Trisha Bennett FIH, Director at Hospitality Assured explores the important subject of Service Recovery within the Hospitality Industry.

Research shows that over 90% of dissatisfied customers don’t complain and over 60% will not use your organisation again due to poor customer experience, as organisations are failing to create positive emotional experiences.  Customers can become loyal ambassadors of your organisation after successful recovery from these failures, as it is seen to increase their satisfaction and confidence in your organisation (the service recovery paradox).  Therefore, it is common sense to proactively seek feedback on customer perceptions of your product, service and facilities.  Positive and negative feedback drive change, helping people and organisations to grow and improve.  A key element of effective service recovery is empowered and engaged employees who are challenged by turning negative feedback into compliments, and loyal customers that shout about your outstanding service.  What does it take for successful service recovery?

A Service Recovery Strategy 

  1. Develop policies and procedures for acquiring and managing positive and negative customer feedback, establishing authority, time frames and progress updates. Include comments, compliments, complaints and requests that are both formal and informal, such as verbal, written, email, comment cards, surveys, social media and phone calls.
  2. Consider the customer service journey touch points and the lifetime value of customers.
  3. Make it easy for customers to give feedback. Be innovative and research new methods, changing them frequently to avoid feedback fatigue, and encourage feedback by offering incentives to customers and employees.
  4. Record all feedback including dates, times, personnel involved, corrective action taken and agreed solutions. Encourage employees to report near misses and mistakes, with the knowledge that they will be responded to positively and used to inform improvements; therefore developing a culture of openness and trust.
  5. Analyse feedback. Electronic systems can make this an easier process, especially for tracking trends.  Find out the root cause as situations arise using problem solving techniques, for example Ishikawa ‘fish bone’ analysis.
  6. Measure feedback and set relevant targets for service recovery and compliments.
  7. Develop a complaints handling process. A simple flowchart or acronyms are useful e.g. BLAST – Believe them, Listen to them, Apologise, Solution and Thank them, or LEARN – Listen, Empathise, Apologise, Resolve and Notify
  8. Establish the feedback loop. Communicate and train systematically on policies, complaints, feedback, the service recovery process and lessons learnt. Empower employees to manage complaints.

Research shows that business spends six times as much to recruit a new customer than to retain an existing one. Investing time to develop a service recovery strategy is vital. Not only does it ensure customers’ ongoing satisfaction and retain their business, it also means that your raving fans will help to promote your business and new customers will not have to be found.


To find our more about how Hospitality Assured support organisations to engage their teams and achieve competitive advantage through business and service excellence visit www.hospitalityassured.com 

About the Author: Trisha Bennett

Trisha, Director of Hospitality Assured, has extensive experience in general management, marketing, research and education, and in 1988 founded a successful business consultancy that focuses on improving the performance of people and businesses. She is enthusiastic about learning and development, and believes in delivering service excellence through coaching, training and development interventions.