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Do You Have a Strong Service Breakdown Plan?

Customers have changed!  Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.  Made smarter by the internet, they are empowered and emboldened to accept nothing short of value.  It has made them Fickle—quicker to leave if unhappy.  One in three consumers (32%) say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one bad experience.  This figure is even higher in Latin America, at 49%.

It means we have to have a powerful service recovery capacity to fix things quickly when they go wrong.

The dance competition was going great!  Little girls (and a few boys) had traveled with their cheerleaders, coaches, and parents to hear the ultimately pronouncement, “And, the winner of first place in the lyrical 7-9 year olds category, a high gold goes to....”  The stage was littered with trophies.  The auditorium was packed with mothers who were vicariously on the stage.  The familiar Strauss waltz started to play and sixteen girls in creative costumes and first-time makeup leaped onto the stage.

Without warning, the power went out!  The auditorium went dark, the music stopped, and the dancers froze in place.  But, the “heart in your throat” emotion lasted only for a second.  Like clockwork, the emergency lights came on, the generator started, and the dance competition resumed just as fast as it stopped.  Coaches and mothers breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Dancers on stage continued their arabesques with the utmost grace, charm and confidence.

Customer service rarely goes perfectly, on schedule, or like the clockwork of a dance competition.  Sometimes, the lights go out on the delivery of service.  Do you have the service equivalent of emergency lights and a generator for backup power?  Customers do not expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to care when things go wrong.  Think through all that could go wrong and plan for every service breakdown contingency.

© Chip Bell Group, 2020.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.

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