Best Practices Healthcare Leadership

Best Practice Techniques for Service Recovery


By Oakley Smith, Vice President, Experience Quality

No operation is perfect. Though organizations strive to deliver the highest quality service every day, there are bound to be times when a customer is unsatisfied with an aspect of service. Whether this dissatisfaction stems from a missed opportunity or a slip in delivery, it’s important that the organization does all they can to improve the situation in the eyes of the dissatisfied individual. This concept is called service recovery.

Effective service recovery can be achieved by being responsive and solution-oriented. Following these helpful tips will provide a service recovery approach that will turn a negative experience into a positive one.

CNS-Patient Ambassador + Patient-44Act Immediately to a Complaint

Be responsive by acting on the complaint immediately. Once learning about the need for service recovery, make this task a top priority. Visit with the dissatisfied individual as soon as possible to show them that their feedback is important. This time should be spent in a purposeful and solution-oriented manner.

Communicate Professionally and Ask Open-Ended Questions

Communicate professionally and effectively, letting the individual know who you are, the department you represent, and inquiring about their experience with the service provided. Asking open-ended questions and letting the individual tell their story allows them to express how the services were perceived and provides better insight into the situation.

Actively Listen and Apologize

After letting the individual speak to their perception of the situation, apologize for any misses or barriers, and ask how you can turn a negative situation into a positive one. To ensure the proper solution to their situation, active listening is critical, especially as the individual expresses their feelings and feedback. Here are a few techniques to ensure optimal active listening:

- Maintain eye contact with the speaker
- Be attentive
- Remove background activity or noise
- Remain ready to serve
- Be present
- Keep an open mind without jumping to conclusions
- Don’t interrupt the speaker
- Wait for the speaker to pause to ask questions to ensure understanding
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues
- Summarize what the speaker has said to ensure you are both on the same page

Provide a Solution

After listening to the individual’s point-of-view and feedback on what can be done to positively impact their experience, determine the best approach to providing a solution. If this means having a housekeeper return to a room, providing a new, hot meal, or replacing a piece of linen, make sure the next steps happen quickly. While there are bound to be misses within any operation, it’s how an organization responds that can make all the difference.

Oakley Smith joined HHS in 2017 as the Vice President of Experience Quality. Oakley is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has extensive experience working with patient satisfaction in the realms of both food and nutrition and environmental services. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Middle Tennessee State University, and will graduate with a Master of Science in Nutrition from Murray State University in 2019.