The myth of service recovery

Rick Garlick
Maritz Research Hospitality Group, United States


Service recovery has been defined as the actions an organization takes in response to a service failure (Gronoos, 1988). Since customers naturally feel a sense of entitlement to have their problems acknowledged and compensated, any number of strategies may be employed to restore customer satisfaction and loyalty (Danaher and Mattsson, 1994; Sparks and McColl-Kennedy, 2001). Minimally, service recovery strategies involve an acknowledgement of the problem, as well as an explanation for why the problem occurred and a sincere apology for the resulting inconvenience. There is often a perception that something additional needs to be done in order to truly compensate a customer for the trouble that he or she has experienced. Some examples might include refunds, price discounts, upgrade services, or free products and/or services. Clemmer and Schneider (1996) noted that how a customer is treated during the recovery process is just as important as the compensation he or she receives. In order for service recovery efforts to be effective, there has to be both a perception of fair compensation as well as an attitude of contrition and respect for the customer (Levesque and McDougall, 2000).