How Does Your Organization Handle a Service Crisis?

I’m sure you have a plan in place for a communications and public relations crisis, a physical crisis, and an operational crisis—but do you have a plan in place for a service crisis?

When your client is sick of telling you about problems and ready to walk out the door (along with their revenue) what do you do?

Here are a few essential components to consider when constructing your organization’s service crisis plan; this plan should:

  • Be different from your service recovery plan; it should build from the concepts in your service recovery plan, but escalate all elements.
  • Have an education/research component. More often than not, when a service situation has reached a crisis level, your research about the company and relationship has come up short. Build in time to get up to speed—comprehensively and quickly.
  • Have a communications component. You should be talking with all levels of the organization about the issue; when responding you should communicate regularly with all levels about progress and recovery milestones.
  • Have a timeline, stages, and benchmarks. In a service crisis situation, you need some quick wins. You need to make some promises to remediate past failures and deliver on those promises in an effective and timely manner. You also need a staged process that holds your service recovery team accountable throughout the process.
  • Demand resources. A service recovery crisis is usually a “most hands on deck” effort. Be sure that leadership devotes adequate manpower to the initiative—and that employees are clear about their role in the recovery effort.
  • Be realistic. A service crisis plan should be realistic in both scope and recovery expectations. A client who has felt wronged for five years may or may not respond to a year-long service recovery effort. A client who has lost faith in your organization as a result of several repeated service mishaps may not be interested in repairing the relationship, regardless of how comprehensive your service crisis plan is. Sometimes the old adage “too little, too late” holds true.

What do you think?

  • Do you know of a service (not product) organization that has executed a service crisis plan well?
  • What other elements should a comprehensive service crisis plan contain?

Post your response and check back for a reply!

Topics: communication, customer service, education