Apology Science is the inconspicuous bond that keeps the sales and after-sales service department mustered. Sales and customer service go hand in hand, they are like two sides of the same coin. The relationship between the Salespersons and the customer is impeccable as long as nothing goes wrong in after-sales service. But ineluctable things happen especially after-sales - it is where the companies should take a call to address the issue. They should be prepared for any damage control.
If a failure or disruption of any nature happens, it depends on how it is handled. If it is tackled in a haphazard manner, it can be catastrophic to your business.
Instead of trying traditional trial and error methods, your sales and service teams should try a science-backed apology methodology. A scientific approach will surely have a positive influence on even your most angry and bitterly disappointed customers.
Apology, the simple but most effective word – is also a very difficult word in usage. Companies have their own reservations in using and as well not using this word.
Some companies avoid apologising to the customers fearing it might increase their liability. Few other companies feel that apology, will draw more attention to the error and intensify the bad publicity. At the professional level, it will be perilous to the sales rep – as mishandled apology can be career-ending for him.
In such a scenario, the consequences are bipartite. There are probabilities of losing the customer. In case the unhappy customer shares his dissatisfaction in his circle and network, then, it can have unfavourable repercussion in the industry and the business circle.
Handling a customer crisis in the right way can rescue the relationship and elevate it to an even higher level. It triggers a scientific theory called the Service Recovery Paradox (SRP), a situation in which the customer thinks more highly of you after you’ve corrected a problem than afore.
To generate the SRP and to get its maximum benefit, you have to handle the failure and its aftermath properly, beginning with the apology itself.
Companies agree that apology is very important for customer retention and to avoid churn. But the results depend on how compelling and convincing the apology was. Unfortunately, companies have not formulated any method of apology.
It is a known fact that a well-executed apology, recovery and damage control exercise can enhance your business. There are 4 major components of the apology, which will trigger the SRP in a B2B environment.
The optimistic message a company can convey to the customer is a willingness to rectify and optimise the problem. Even though at times the problem would have been created by the sub-contractors or outsourcing parties but still the provider is responsible. There is a notion among the customers that the provider should solve the problem.
2. Response Time:
No sooner than the problem is detected or anticipated, a swift recovery action plan should take place. It really matters for the customers where downtime will be very costly. In hospitality related industries where disruption of services can cause great inconvenience to the common public.
3. Compensation and Indemnity:
The best and the correct way to resolve the issue is, take action instantly without any expenses incurred by the customer. The best mechanism of compensating is to offer a gratis service period.
Express the concern and courtesy to the customer. Try to eliminate the problem from its roots. This little politeness and niceties will instil confidence in customers. These small and trifle activities will trigger your SRP.
Provider should apologies for all the short comings. The 4 R’s of apology process - Responsibility, Reason, Repair and Regret should suffice the customer.
At present, there is no official, scientifically tested framework for developing and delivering a B2B apology.
Mistakes do happen as they are inevitable but care should be taken not to lose the customers. At the same time, SRP gives hope a service failure could become an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. It all depends on how you engage your customer to achieve the results.