Service Recovery: How To Turn Upset Customers Into Loyal Ambassadors


In the world of customer service, we often encounter an intriguing concept known as the service recovery paradox. When customers come to you with a problem, they’re often upset and on edge. It’s a moment that can make or break the bond between your customer and your brand. This is when you have the chance to turn things around. Interestingly, successfully doing so can make your customers even more loyal to your brand—this is the essence of the service recovery paradox. But to get there, a lot needs to happen.

Here are some strategies I’ve seen that work.

Shift Your Mindset
Having a client return with a problem is stressful for everyone. The client is often upset and sometimes emotional. You and your team may be too. Having the right technique to handle the situation is critical, but so is shifting your mindset. Try to understand that a customer problem is also an opportunity—a chance to take advantage of the service recovery paradox I mentioned before.

Understand where your customers are coming from. It’s about listening—truly listening—and showing them you understand.

Be Clear And Transparent
This is non-negotiable. Customers appreciate when you tell it like it is—what can be done, what can’t and how long it will take.

Give A Genuine Apology
When you mess up, say you’re sorry—and mean it. No excuses. A sincere apology can be as simple as, “We’re genuinely sorry for the inconvenience this has caused you. Let’s make it right.”

Empower Your Team
Give your team the power to sort out the problem then and there (within certain limits, of course). No one likes being passed around from person to person.

Keep Your Customer Informed
A customer should never have to chase anyone for an update. Keeping them informed every step of the way is essential.

Assign One Point Of Contact
As a customer, it’s reassuring to have one go-to person who knows your story inside out. They shouldn’t have to retell it to a different person every time. Having one point of contact saves them (and you) time and tears.

Share Information
Sometimes, the go-to person takes a day off or is simply not available. That’s when a good customer relationship management platform can help anyone who picks up where the other team member left off without missing a beat.

Offer Something Extra
What happened was troublesome for your customer. Perhaps they had to call or come back to the store. See how you can make it up to them. Maybe it’s by offering a discount, inviting them to a private event or just going out of your way to make things right. It shows you are serious about making amends.

Closing The Loop
Let’s remember something here: We’re not just talking about a transaction. We’re talking about a person who’s had a hiccup in their day because something went wrong with the product or service you sold. So you’re not just fixing a problem; you’re fixing a day, maybe even a relationship with a customer who thought you were the best before things went south.

When a team aces that service recovery, it’s like hitting a home run. Customers don’t just walk away thinking you’re all right—they walk away thinking you’re amazing.

But this is not the end of the story. Here are a few more things you need to do:

  • Learn from the situation: Every problem has a root cause that you need to uncover. What is it? How do you fix it? What have you learned from solving this client’s problem, and what can you do better next time?
  • Emphasize teamwork: Service recovery isn’t a solo play. Leverage the situation to make sure everyone from the top down knows how important it is to keep customers happy. It’s a team effort.
  • Celebrate the wins: When you turn a service failure into a win, it’s time to celebrate. It boosts morale and reminds the team that what they do matters.

Service recovery is more than a process—it’s a cultural shift where you recognize each challenge as an opportunity to surprise and delight customers. It’s about empathy, empowerment and going the extra mile because, at the end of the day, it’s not just business; it’s personal.

Originally published on Forbes.


by Christophe Cais
CEO & Board Member at CXG
Follow me on LinkedIn.

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