Issues, problems, complaints - whatever
the terminology - they are in reality fantastic
opportunities to create step
- Customer satisfaction
- Strength of relationships
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.
- Customer satisfaction steady at a given
- Customer satisfaction significantly declines
when you've given the customer cause to complain or raise
a dissatisfaction issue
- 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)
- Standard attempts are made to correct
the problem and satisfaction rises.
- 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
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.
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
- 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