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Jennifer  Livingston

Jennifer Livingston Consultant

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3 Steps To Customer Service Recovery

When you lose a customer, it can cost you big time. Some business insiders suggest that it costs five to ten times as much to gain a new client or customer as it does just to keep the ones you already have happy. Any kind of customer service mishap has the potential to lose you that customer.

If you’re facing a situation, where you’re about to lose an important client or customer, you’ll want to try the following steps to see if you can retain him/ her. In doing so, you’ll save yourself a ton of money and you might even have a more loyal customer to boot.

1. Keep It Simple

Groove HQ recommends that managers follow the Disney model for customer retention. It’s a simple acronym: H.E.A.R.D. It stands for hear, empathize, apologize, resolve, and diagnose. Any apology that doesn’t include these elements will ring hollow to an angry client.

When you’re dealing with a customer who is angry, it’s important that you listen to him or her and feel a measure of empathy for his/ her plight. It’s additionally important that when you apologize that you resolve the customer’s issue. The resolution may include giving the person his/ her money back or offering some sort of discount on products or services.

Finally, you need to diagnose the problem. Be sure to understand what contributed to it happening so that you can take steps so that it doesn’t happen again.

2. Take a Cue From Top Brands

But Disney isn’t the only company doing customer satisfaction the right way. According to USA Today, despite being a mass market car producer, Toyota company, maker of vehicles like Toyota Tundra and Toyota Prius, outranked Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in customer satisfaction.

Toyota accomplished this, in part, due to its attention to dependability and customer satisfaction.

Don’t be deceived into thinking that the dependability factor only applies to cars in this instance. An article on Mashable suggests that dependability is the most important aspect of customer service.

When it comes to pleasing a dissatisfied customer, your company needs to have a reputation of being dependable in this respect. People want to know that you’re going right the wrong so to speak, because you’ve made yourself accountable to them.

In this case, it’s not as if Toyota has never screwed up. The company has had its far share of mishaps and voluntary recalls. But that’s the point. The company has been dependable in it commitment to making safe cars, which in turn, helps it find favor among consumers.

If you’re looking for companies to emulate, Toyota and Disney (and other companies with similar customer satisfaction levels) are a good place to start.

3. Be Sure to Follow Up

After a bad customer encounter, you should follow up in the months following the incident. As the Groove HQ article points out, often a nearly lost customer who has been won over becomes more loyal than he/ she was to begin with.

To do this, Entrepreneur recommends that you keep post-issue follow up low key. Your initial attempts to make things right with your customer may not result in the ending you had hope for. That is to say, you may not get a big project from this client right away. However, you may be able to win some smaller projects.

It’s okay in the aftermath of an issue to send postcards or coupons to keep yourself on your client’s radar, without becoming overbearing. This lets the client know that you are making the attempt at making things right, without actually asking him/ her for anything.


Losing a big customer can be devastating to a business. Most business owners understand that it costs more to get a new customer than to retain the ones it already has.

Unfortunately, an angry customer can be a lost customer, unless the situation is handled correctly. Start with a simple apology and attempts to resolve the situation. If you’re not sure how to approach this aspect of customer service, look to companies that are doing it right.

Finally, in the months following the incident, use some low-key follow-up measures to get your customer back in your good graces, without being overbearing.


Sherri Riggs

Awesome. these are so simple! I'd love to see a follow up post on how to avoid making customers angry in the first place and keeping them happy through the whole process.

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