I Just Fixed Your Customer Service Issues For You: Are you smart enough to listen?

13 Apr

Don’t hold your breath if you complain via email to a company: only a third of top firms replied within 24 hours in 2007, compared with nearly two-thirds in 2002. 49 per cent don’t bother to reply at all down from a high of 86 per cent five years earlier, according to a study by Hornstein Associates.  Can you say stupid? Hello? This is for the 51% who don’t reply at all and the 66% who don’t respond within 24 hours. You are spending tremendous amounts of money to get me to buy/try your products. When I do make a purchase you should be spending whatever it takes to keep me happy (and it’s a fraction of the cost to keep me happy than it was to originally get me). An unhappy customer you go the extra mile for, and completely satisfy them, is a customer who will sing your praises via word of mouth, blogs, opinion sites, etc.. That’s the customer who will influence 100’s or even thousands more.  The problem is client attraction (marketing) and client retention (customer service) are two different departments that rarely, if ever work together. You want to attract and keep great customers?  Develop and obsessively track a metric that measures ‘the life cycle’ of a customers’ complaint. Reply Quickly: this is a world of automation, you can send a generic email within seconds of receiving the complaint. Promise that a live person will follow up within 24 hours via email or phone. Then follow thru!

Follow Up: that doesn’t mean sending a canned email, “Sorry you had a problem with Crap product. We here at Don’t Care Company take your complaints very seriously. Thank you for bringing this to our attention”. Make sure you understand the issue, then repeat it to the customer to make sure you both see it the same way.  

Offer a solution, a REAL solution: Don’t offer a discount on the next purchase without resolving the initial issue…they aren’t buying again! So don’t insult them. So fix, repair, replace, upgrade etc. Then offer something extra…something they weren’t expecting. “I’m sorry you had this problem. Because of your inconvenience I’m sending you the replacement and an extra.” Or, “I’m going to extend your warranty another 90 days.” Do it within a reasonable timeframe. i.e. 3 business days…none of this 6-8 weeks later! You know your business. What can you do that will generate good will with that customer? That leads to:   Empower: Empower the person who responded to the complaint to make those types of offers. Hire, train and then trust them. If you don’t trust your customer service people to make those kinds of offers then you shouldn’t be trusting them with your customer and the name and integrity of your company. 

 Accountability: Make sure your customer service people follow through. Not only follow thru with the initial solution, but follow up on the resolution. Did they receive their new product? Did it work properly for them? 

Companies, are you listening; because your customers are shouting at you. http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/04/12/consumer-emails.html

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