The newsLINK Group - The Service Recovery Paradox

Editorial Library Category: Multi-Family & Property Management Topics: Multifamily Living, Recovery Paradox Title: The Service Recovery Paradox Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Things go wrong. It’s just part of life, even if it isn’t one of the more pleasant parts, and even if you have invested strongly in the idea of excellent customer service and have done your best to avoid failures of any kind. Editorial: The Service Recovery Paradox 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Things go wrong. It’s just part of life, even if it isn’t one of the more pleasant parts, and even if you have invested strongly in the idea of excellent customer service and have done your best to avoid failures of any kind. If you dread service failures and think they mean being required to talk to people who are angry with you, take a deep breath. It doesn’t have to be that way. As someone involved in the management of a multifamily community, you should know there is a paradox about failure. It is natural to think that when a service failure occurs, you are likely to hurt the relationship between your organization and the person or family who is renting from you. Fortunately, however, it is possible to use the failure to actually improve the relationship you have and to end up with tenants who are even more satisfied and loyal now than they were before the service failure. How do you bring about that kind of an end to the story? You do your best to resolve the problem as quickly, effectively, and efficiently as possible. After everything is done, you then go over the problem and the resolution and decide what lessons are there for you to learn. Why does it work? When something goes wrong, people’s emotions tend to run high. They care about the outcome of the problem, but they also care about how you treat them. What this means is that you need to look at every problem as having two parts: the service failure is the first part, but the people who are involved are the second part. You can’t have a successful resolution to any problem if you ignore the second part. As a result, fixing problems also means addressing the well-being of the people who are involved. Mark Vanderhoof, who is the corporate maintenance training specialist for CWS Apartment Homes, has experienced first- hand what it means to fix a problem and improve a relationship at the same time. CWS is an acronym that represents the last name of the three owners: Jim Clayton, Bill Williams, who founded the business in 1969, and Steve Sherwood, who joined the firm in 1977. Today, this highly successful company owns apartment communities, mobile home parks, and luxury apartment communities. Some time ago, Mark Vanderhoof was running a community that had a Class A property. A couple had moved in, but when the refrigerator stopped working soon after that, they called him. The first order of business was to figure out how serious the problem was. He headed over to the apartment as soon as he could, but along the way he stopped at a nice restaurant and bought a gift certificate to cover the cost of a nice dinner. Then he went to see the couple that had called him. After he arrived, he looked at the refrigerator himself. It was just as broken as they said it was. He told them that he was going to have to call someone else in order to resolve the problem, and he gave them an idea how long it would take before the refrigerator was either fixed or repaired, but he did more than that. He told them he would reimburse them for the cost of any food that went bad because of the refrigerator failure. He gave them the restaurant certificate. The result was two people who still had a broken refrigerator, but they also had an assurance that the problem would be taken care of … and they had a nice dinner to look forward to as well. In the apartments his company owns, Mark Vanderhoof makes sure there is always someone there who has the authority to make purchases like that in order to create some goodwill. Maintenance technicians are trained to take the initiative in that as part of their jobs. The process of taking service failures and turning them into opportunities to strengthen relationships is one that Disney has raised to a fine art. Part of the Disney brand, after all, is making sure people stay happy. The Disney Institute teaches a five-step recovery method to do just that: