Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
We are all human and human beings make mistakes.
This is just part of the imperfect nature of living life here on earth.
Because of this, it is important for organizations to take precautionary steps to minimize human error in the workplace.
Quality Efforts Control Human Error
This concept of controlling human error is what led to the quality movement.
This movement influenced product manufacturers to embrace quality management as a business practice.
Organizations embrace quality practices to ensure the safety of their workers and their products.
This commitment is to develop quality products and services that perform the way the customer expected.
Total quality management (TQM) is a business practice that looks at management principles to guide the organization.
Business practices that support a quality environment focus on things like leadership, customer experience, process improvement, decisions based on data, employee involvement in decision-making, and improvement efforts.
What Is The Goal Of A TQM Organization
The ultimate goal of a TQM organization is to create products and services, through efficient and effective processes, that are safe, error-free, and exceed the expectations of the paying customer.
To do this, organizations write policies and procedures, train employees on expected behaviors and compliance with procedures, and monitor performance.
This training helps to ensure that the employee is doing what is expected of them, in the manner that the organization requires.
To have a policy that is not enforced is, in many cases, worse than having no policy at all. The reason is, it creates confusion in the workplace.
If one employee is diligently following procedures and protocol, and another is deliberately, or carelessly, skipping steps, there is no consistency in practice resulting in products and services that may vary greatly.
Here Is An Example Of A Bad Service Experience
I recently took my small dog Maggie to get groomed. I have been using the same groomer for six months.
I was thrilled with the way this groomer cared for Maggie and cut her hair.
I willingly paid a little more than average for this service because of the good job that was done.
Well……Maggie had an appointment Saturday, and unbeknownst to me, a second groomer had been hired and was given Maggie to groom.
I should have taken the clue when the pet salon called me to ask about clipping notes in Maggie’s chart.
When I picked her up, I immediately noticed that her face was not trimmed the way it usually was and asked them to fix the errors.
But the biggest surprise to me was that they shaved her tail! She is a Shih Tzu and the fluffy tail is part of their look.
The hair was all gone.
I took Maggie home and tried to get over it but the more I looked at her the more disappointed I was in the cut, and particularly the high price I paid for it.
I called the salon the next day to express my concerns. I spoke to the manager (franchise owner) who downplayed the entire incident and suggested that my concerns were “ridiculous”.
I guess part of the reason I called was to see if they had any service recovery policies that might help soften the disappointment and help me get over it.
However, it became very clear that the owner didn’t understand the concept of service recovery.
I was disappointed at the response and just chalked it up to dealing with a small business owner who just didn’t get it.
This example is the exact reason that all businesses should have a written service recovery policy and that all employees understand its intent and are empowered to do what needs to be done to make things right for the customer.
This groomer was clearly learning, and that is ok, but at whose expense?
What Is A Service Recovery Policy?
A service recovery policy simply acknowledges that human error will happen and outlines expectations for employees to make it right with the customer.
Statistics show that a dissatisfied customer, who has a great service recovery experience, is more loyal to the organization than a customer that had a great initial experience.
Customers recognize that we don’t live in a perfect world. And in spite of training and other efforts, accidents happen and processes fail.
When a customer experiences an organization that cares enough to “fix” the issue, they are much more forgiving and know that issues will be fixed.
This demonstration provides hope for the customer to have great experiences.
A Great Service Recovery Story
The dog groomer incident is an example of what not to do. Here is an example of a great service recovery experience.
I went to lunch with a friend at a local restaurant. We had not seen each other in a while and wanted to enjoy a nice lunch together.
We ordered our meal. When our orders arrived, my order was just as ordered, but her order was wrong.
The waitress apologized and said she would get it fixed.
The second order came out and it too was wrong.
This time the manager came out, apologized, and asked my friend if she wanted to take the order home for a family member and assured us that the third time would be a correct order.
Well, the third order did come out as requested and we ate our meal. However, to our surprise, when the waitress brought out the check, we learned that her meal was zeroed out.
Plus they gave her a gift certificate to return. So she got a free meal, they gave her the wrong order to go, and a gift card to return. That is service recovery.
We did go back for a meal and used the gift card and have been back several times since.
This restaurant manager knew the concept of service recovery and the importance of making things right. And he did!
What A Service Comparison!
These two experiences were light night and day. The restaurant bent over backward to fix the problem and it actually cost them to do so.
The dog groomer simply didn’t think it was a big deal and honestly didn’t care.
I guess one of the biggest disappointments in this was that the owner was so flippant with me and offered no solution.
What she failed to understand was that she had not only lost a paying customer but she also lost an advocate and salesperson for her business. Something no small business owner wants.
So have your employees been trained on how to recover from a bad service experience?