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Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo - Making Service Recovery Work
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Wednesday, 05 June 2013 00:30

Making Service Recovery Work Featured

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If you have been following my column you would have noticed that I am deeply committed to making service work better.

This week I have a case study, which would help make the case for better service recovery strategies.

Some minutes before writing this, Kenya Airways (KQ) fulfilled a promise they made to me a few days earlier.

Some weeks ago, while aboard a KQ flight from Nairobi to Kenya, I bought a camcorder from their duty free service. It was a great bargain and I was excited to have a portable device that would accompany me on my many adventures. 

I got back home and set up the camcorder following the user guide that came with the device. I then charged the camcorder for the stipulated amount of time before powering it on. To my dismay, the camcorder did not power on. Further attempts at charging the camcorder did not change the situation. The manufacturer’s website did not contain the information needed to resolve the challenge. I sent a complaint via email to the manufacturer.

Several emails later and with no resolution in sight, I gave up and decided to get in touch with KQ. After all it was through them I bought the device. The service was broken so let them (KQ) fix it. More so I was scheduled to return to Nairobi in a few days time.

Here is a timeline of how things unfolded:

Thursday, May 30th 2011

3 days before I left Lagos, I sent an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (Kenya Airways Customer Service Email Address). Here is an excerpt:

Me: “…I would like to return the camcorder to your office in Nairobi. I want a replacement or a refund of my money, as the device has not even worked since I bought it. Below is a mail trail with the details of the transaction. Attached is the receipt. Kindly let me know what the steps to resolving this are”.

At the same time, I sent a tweet to @KenyaAirways (Kenya Airways Twitter Handle): “I have sent an email with the complaint to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

My Kenya Airways Boarding Pass

Friday, May 31st 2013

KQ responded via email and on twitter in a commendably short time.

Tweet From @KenyaAirways: @andyemegbo Thank you Anderson, We shall respond to you as soon as we receive your email. Have a pleasant day. ^FA
Email: “Dear X, …Mr. Anderson Uvie-Emegbo will be traveling to Nairobi from Lagos on 2nd June on KQ. Kindly have the said product changed for him on board”.

KQ Customer Service Executive responding through the KQ Website Help desk escalated my mail to the vendor handling duty free products.  Below is an excerpt:

“Subject: FW: Fw: I need help with my product

Importance: High

Please handle. Thanks”

Me: “However I am coming via RwandAir and not KQ. I would be bringing the device with me to Nairobi. How do you suggest I get the replacement? I would also like it to be tested in my presence so that I am sure it works”.

KQ: My apologies for assuming you will be traveling on KQ. Please give us your telephone contact in Kenya. We will make contact to arrange pickup and delivery of the new one to you at a venue of your choice”

And that is exactly what they did – a promise kept!

Vivitar Camcorder

How Can I Make Service Recovery Work?

What lessons can you draw from this?

If you are KQ, how can you do even better next time?

Here are a few tips:

1. Anticipate possible challenges

'What can go wrong may go wrong…'
In the case of this purchase, there can be software or hardware failures, factory defects or damage during handling. An effective user testing process might have identified some of the potential issues. The user may also have difficulty in understanding how to use the device. In my case, none of these applied.

2. Make contingency plans
'What can go wrong may go wrong…so plan for it'
KQ should confirm that supplied items have zero factory defects. User Testing should be meticulously done. Packages should be handled with care. Warranty should be in place with manufacturers of devices. A user manual should be included in the package. An online step-by-step “how-to” video guide might be helpful.

3. Follow Up After Making the Sale

This is one area organizations need to focus on. After concluding the sale, what sort of follow up is in place to ensure that the customer has indeed received the intended benefit? Do you send an email, text message or call the customer some days after the sale is done? Would that be too much to ask? How far are you ready to go for your customer?

In my case, I did not receive any post sale communication from KQ. Maybe no customer had ever complained about challenges with duty free products. Even if I have no complaints, is it not possible that I might have some valuable feedback about the service, which might in turn help, improve their offering? Why should I (the customer) be the one to contact the organization? What if I decide not to? I may have felt that like so many organizations, KQ might take forever

to resolve the issue. This perception may lead me to abandon the device, cut my losses and run. I may not go quietly though. I might become a strong advocate of 'don't buy duty free products from KQ’. This surely is not the resolution any brand needs. However, if KQ wanted to follow up, the receipt of

the transaction did not contain my names, email address or seat number - an anonymous sale indeed. No customer data…no objective way of measuring post sales customer satisfaction. Nothing would turn up unless you turn them up.

Final Word

Happily for KQ, I gave them a chance to make amends. Don't expect such level headedness from every customer or from even the same customer every time.

It is time to make service recovery work in your organization.

This post also appeared in the Punch Newspapers. Click Here

Dr Anderson Uvie-Emegbo

                          Web Contact

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2 comments

  • Comment Link Oluwasina Wednesday, 05 June 2013 11:52 posted by Oluwasina

    Time is now for Nigeria enterprises to borrow a leaf or two from this approach to customer service.

  • Comment Link Kenneth Adagba Wednesday, 05 June 2013 11:30 posted by Kenneth Adagba

    My Brother, keep the flag flying..........The sky is to close to be your limit.

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