A W(h)ine About Customer Service Recovery


Author Bio


Author Bio

On a recent business trip, after a long day, I decided to get a glass of wine to bring back to my room while catching up on emails. The good news is that the hotel had a store where you can purchase such essentials. The bad news was that they only offer bottles of wine that require a corkscrew… Let the fun begin!

To purchase any item from the store you must wait in line at the registration desk. At this particular time of day the line was very long with guests checking in. After waiting about 15 minutes it was my turn and I was very pleased when the hotel agent acknowledged the time I had spent in line and offered the bottle to me for free, as long as I promised to post a positive review on Yelp.

At this point you might think this is why I wrote this blog. It’s not. Reviews or survey responses should never be coerced, but that’s not the main issue here.

I needed a corkscrew to open the bottle. I was assured one would be sent to my room right away, so I went off happily to my room to wait. 45 minutes later, I call down to the front desk to see when it might arrive. I was told it would arrive within 30 minutes. After those 30 minutes came and went, I called again. By now I was frustrated and wanted to get this straightened out just to prove a point. This time I was told that they wouldn’t be sending one up after all, but if I wanted to come down to the front desk and get one I could do that.

At this point, it was late, I was ready for bed and in no mood to go all the way down to the front desk. This attempt at service recovery completely failed and now the hotel is at risk because I may post a review on Yelp, or worse, write a blog post.

In all seriousness, there are lessons to be learned here. Your service recovery process:

  • Should not include quid pro quo. If you truly want to improve the customer’s experience, do so with no strings attached.
  • Must include a closed loop process to ensure the actions you have set in motion achieve the desired outcome. If they fail, there should be a process in place to recover from the second failure and escalate the incident.
  • Should be automated so that as different touch points are being managed by many different people, you can still track its progress and its success.

Service recovery can have very positive or negative impacts on your business. I haven’t been back to this hotel since. Bottom line: even little mistakes can have a big impact. Take service recovery seriously.

Or at least stock screw top wine.