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From “Tragic” to “Magic”: the Service Recovery Paradox - by Victoria S. Martinez

Anyone who has worked in customer service can attest to encountering guests who are not satisfied with a situation. In order to be an expert at achieving maximum guest satisfaction, the number one characteristic that demonstrates expertise in customer service is empowerment. I learned about the importance of empowerment in my Guest Service Management course at Rosen College and how it directly relates to service recovery.

There are several organizations that regularly practice how to keep employees empowered and finding solutions to satisfy guests. For example, the Ritz Carlton teaches employees to “own the complaint” and show they have empowerment to make decisions, and Disney teaches their cast members how to turn something “tragic” into “magic.” Therefore, I believe this is not an innate characteristic, but one that is taught through the organizational culture. A concept called the “service recovery paradox” explains how dissatisfied customers with good service recovery can lead to increased loyalty. Without feeling empowered, employees might leave guests with “no” for an answer or not officially find a solution to the problem.

Throughout the past few months getting to work at a hotel again, I have encountered many situations where the guests are complaining about something and look to me (a young hostess) to solve their issue. I realize they want to hear any answer except “we can’t do that,” “I’m sorry,” or “no.” I learned to be empowered provide exemplary customer service by finding some type of solution for them because my main goal is for them to leave the restaurant satisfied and wanting to return; although they had a rough experience, one of the hotel’s employees was able to solve the problem, leaving them satisfied and more likely to stay loyal to the hotel.


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