Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Recovering from Service Failure

As IT service providers we often come across service failures, some of which happen consistently. This isn't necessarily a disaster for the CIO or the IT service provider. If the service recovery - the actions taken in response to the failure - is handled well, then customer/user satisfaction, trust and loyalty can actually increase. I have actually seen it quite a few times and even though proactiveness is always preached and feels good to say in theory, but reactive actions are almost always rewarded.

Service failures are always occurring - but what matters more are the actions taken to recover from the failure, which have multi-dimensional impacts on the IT department. Indeed, service recovery is the acid test for customer orientation: if an IT shop or the CIO does not excel in this, then it is not customer oriented.

Good service recovery can build commitment and trust between the IT department and the users, which increases user satisfaction and loyalty. More importantly, business starts to feel that IT is delivering what business wants, whereas at a lot of companies in Calgary I hear that IT and business work in their own silos.

Even though it may seem like a paradox, the whole experience can generate more goodwill for the IT shop that if nothing had gone wrong in the first place.

In contrast, service recovery failure - even for a relatively minor incident - can increase customer dissatisfaction and frustration. This makes them more likely to say negative things about the IT's ability to deliver.

So the question is whether recovery is proactive?

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