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Issue Resolution

Issues, problems, complaints - whatever the terminology - they are in reality fantastic opportunities to create step changes in:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Strength of relationships
  • Loyalty.

Firstly, you will need a robust process that everyone who interfaces with customers needs to be very familiar with. Let's take a look at what normally happens when a customer has a problem.

Diagram 1

  1. Customer satisfaction steady at a given level
  2. Customer satisfaction significantly declines when you've given the customer cause to complain or raise a dissatisfaction issue
  3. The point at which you are informed of the problem (the customer has had time to fester on it - this is normal in most organisations)
  4. Standard attempts are made to correct the problem and satisfaction rises.
  5. Satisfaction is now at an overall lower level that it was before the issue occurred.

There are two underlying issues of serious consequence here: firstly if competitors' performance is only marginally behind, a customer issue can plummet you from best to worst supplier almost instantly. Also of grave concern is the time gap between 2 and 3 above: this is a gateway left open for competitors when overall satisfaction is at an all-time low (5).

Although there are many permutations, diagram 1 represents the normal situation in most organisations we have come across. Just think about your own experiences as a customer. Now let's look on the bright side.

Diagram 2

The first recognisable difference to diagram 1 is the short time lag between the customer experiencing the problem and you being informed. This is no accident - in fact it is a key measure (time between occurrence and identification) and you should always ask a customer when they report or you identify an issue. Customers are educated and rewarded for reporting problems fast. Hence the competitor gateway (time between 2 and 3) is barely open before being firmly shut.

Point 4 is the recovery made directly upon receiving the issue. Through issue resolution training, the recipient has empathy, is extremely professional whilst hearing out the customer, establishes the facts and has the mandate to immediately agree first stage corrective action.

At Point 5 a sorry card or other suitable notification is posted. The next morning the client gets this notification which effectively says "sorry we messed up!" and confirms the action agreed. It also identifies who is establishing preventative action to guard against reoccurrence.

Point 6 is an independent follow-up contact who identifies what preventive action has been put in place and confirms close-out of the issue.

Point 7 is a small gift - maybe corporate memorabilia, or for senior individuals anything from event tickets to charitable donations to planting a tree in their name (this can be done for the price of a cinema ticket).

Point 8. An overall positive step change in customer satisfaction occurs from treating issues in this way (this is apart from the internal recurrence costs saved). Think of the other benefits too:

  • Staff handling complaints actually enjoy the job
  • Customers thank you for the privilege (we're not kidding!)
  • Loyalty is far more robust - a loyal customer who hasn't had a problem hasn't been tested. Compare this to customers that have had problems but you've worked through them together using this process
  • Relationships are strengthened, dialogue relaxes and customers move closer.

Imonic can train staff and implement tailored variations of this process. Tell us your situation, and we'll suggest an innovative solution. Contact us today.