Operations

How To Communicate During A Service Failure

Jim Luff
Posted on December 2, 2018

Don't let service failures just sit there.
Don't let service failures just sit there.
Service failures can happen for a variety of reasons. Most often ground transportation failures are caused by mechanical issues. How you communicate with your clients can make the difference in retaining or losing them forever.

Plan For The Inevitable

Let’s face it; a vehicle breakdown is bound to happen to everyone. There is no way to prevent mechanical failures. Whether it is as simple as a flat tire during the journey, or as major as complete engine failure, it has happened to you before and will certainly happen again. With this in mind, create a premade game plan for different situations. Aside from developing a network of affiliates you might call to assist and establishing accounts with repair shops and towing companies, you’ll need a communications plan. Don’t shoot from the hip during a crisis. Know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.

Keeping Passengers Informed

Travel can be stressful and hectic to our passengers. Failures that happen during an important event such as a wedding or funeral can cause passengers to become anxious or angry. As soon as you become aware of a service failure, reach out to the client and tell them honestly and professionally of the situation you are facing. Be prepared to provide options, and more importantly, to accept your client’s decision. If the client is unable to wait for a replacement vehicle or elects to cancel service during the call, accept it, apologize, and avoid communicating about financial matters during the initial call. It will only prove to be more stress added to your client, and you could appear more concerned about your money than the inconvenience for the client.

Create a win-win situation for your company and client.
Create a win-win situation for your company and client.
Keep It Honest

Honest communications will serve you much better than exaggerated statements. If your chauffeur overslept and missed an early morning pickup, don’t tell your client you will have another vehicle there within 30 minutes if you are not positive about it. Once 30 minutes has passed and a replacement vehicle has not arrived, your client will only become more irritated. If you think it will actually take 30 minutes, then tell the client it will be 45 minutes. When the vehicle arrives 15 minutes early, you will look much better than at 15 minutes later.

What To Offer

When service failures occur, you should have a standard policy dispatchers, reservationists, and chauffeurs all know will be followed based upon the circumstances. People want immediate resolution to service failures. Only you can decide on the appropriate compensation for a particular type of service failure.

Empower your staff based on pre-defined remedies so they can make amends with clients before they take to social media. Communicating your intentions to make things right can save you from a blistering review on Yelp, Facebook, Google, or Trip Advisor.

Compensation For Service Failures

Make a plan on how you will handle these service failures and relay it to your staff:

  • Mechanical problems
  • Traffic issues
  • Road closures
  • Late vehicle arrivals
  • Vehicle no-shows
  • Failed airport connections
  • Safety concerns of chauffeurs or vehicles
  • Employee/chauffeur complaints
  • Weather issues

Other Considerations

  • Always have a chauffeur on standby ready to be called in.
  • For out of town trips, determine what affiliates could be called for help.
  • If the client is forced to contract another provider, offer to pay for it.
  • Always ask your client how they would like to see the situation resolved.
  • Confirm with your client that they are satisfied with how the failure was handled.

Great Ideas provides a broad range of information focused on new ideas and approaches in management, human resources, customer service, marketing, networking and technology. Have something to share or would like covered? Contact LCT contributing editor and California operator Jim Luff at [email protected]

Related Topics: building your clientele, client feedback, customer service, How To

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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