Create a Plan for Your Predictable Customer Service Issues.
There are a variety of reasons why customer service issues spring up. Some of these issues are predictable, while others are not. By focusing on creating a plan for the predictable problems, your staff can become better equipped to improve customer satisfaction issues when they arise.
One of the practical leadership tools we train our Bullet Proof® Manager participants on is the ⅓ + 1 Rule methodology for identifying the “coffee stains” in their business and prioritizing which predictable customer service problems to focus on correcting, or coming up with a plan for, first.
A great example of a predictable problem is what most airlines run into when they are booking popular routes. Quite some time ago, they realized that, for whatever reason, some passengers would not be able to make their flight at the last minute. Flights would leave with empty seats, which could mean a loss of revenue for the airlines (or, at the very least, a missed additional revenue opportunity). But, by deliberately overbooking popular flight routes, they are able to hedge their bets that a few people would not show up, meaning that they would still have enough passengers to fill the airplane.
However, it does happen that everyone shows up for the flight and they run into an issue where they don’t have enough seats for everyone who bought a ticket. At some point, the airline staff realizes that they are likely going to have this issue and start making announcements early on in the waiting process, “Hey folks, good news. We are in an oversold situation. Some lucky person is going to get a free round-trip ticket to any place they like and an upgrade on the next flight out. If you would like to volunteer, please step up.”
That approach is a whole lot better than waiting until the very end, once everyone is boarding, and then expecting the last few people to be okay with not being able to take the flight!
So, what are the predictable problems in your business? A great place to start is by working with your front-line employees as well as levels of management to glean insights from their daily client interactions. Once identified, create a plan for how your staff should properly respond to the predictable problem and ensure that they are trained to use it – try running “fire drills” on your plan. This will help work out the kinks as well as properly put your plan in place.
With predictable problems, the resolution may have some cost but if we truly believe in the value of a customer, the value of a loyal customer, the lifetime value of repeated purchases and the value of our good reputation, we definitely owe it to ourselves as managers, to our staff and organization, as well as to our customers to develop solutions for addressing predictable customer service problems. Would you agree?