What is service recovery?

I'm glad that service recovery experiences like the one I just had still happen. Earlier this evening we ordered a pizza online from my favorite pizza chain, Round Table Pizza. We decided on a large supreme pizza and 6 garlic twists. The order came to $28.99 and I opted to pay when I picked it up. When I arrived at the restaurant, the place was heaving. Three little league teams were having their pre-season meetings and there were kids running around everywhere. The cute but frazzled shift manager asked for my phone number so she could look up the order. I knew immediately from the look on her face that something wasn't right. "Give me your phone number one more time," she asked. I did, and she replied with the same puzzled look. "And you ordered online?" I assured here I did and showed her the receipt on my phone. She furrowed her brow and asked me to wait a moment. I knew what was coming.

A few moments later, the manager appeared and took over the case. He apologized, reconfirmed my order and explained that the order had been missed due to the sheer volume of orders they were dealing with at the moment. "It happens," I said and explained that I had worked in this very same pizza parlor when I was 16 so I could sympathize. He re-tallied my order, looked me in the eye and said "Ok your order comes to $15.99." It took me a moment to realize what he'd done. That's a heck of a discount. Admirable.

But the story doesn't end there.

I walked to a nearby table to wait for my pizza to come out of the oven and glanced at my receipt. Wait a sec, something isn't right. The receipt just had 1 x Large Supreme. That's it. No twists. I sighed and went up to the counter and said to the manager "I hate to be a pain in the ass but I had garlic twists on my original order." The manager looked at me and simply said "I know." Wow, so not only had he given me a substantial discount on my pizza, he'd thrown in the garlic twists for free.

Look, I know it's just frickin' pizza but this is a great example of service recovery. They screwed up but they did so much right to fix it. They NEVER suggested that it might have been my fault; did I screw up the online order? Did I place the order to the wrong branch? There was never a hint that this was anything but their fault. Another thing they did right was not make a song and dance about how they were fixing the problem. They just did it. No explanations of the discount, no hoop-la about the free twists, no empty apologies. Just a substantial gesture to acknowledge their mistake and try to keep a loyal customer. And let me tell you, they succeeded on both fronts.

Customer service is far less about the problem itself, it's about how you fix the problem, that's how you'll be judged.