Solutions for fixing unpredictable customer service problems are not complex!
As we began to discuss last week, there are a variety of reasons why customer service issues spring up. Some of these issues are predictable, while others are not. Last week we talked about getting proactive in dealing with your predictable customer service problems. This week, we’re taking a look at the unpredictable problems.
No matter how great of an organization we are, unpredictable problems arise. Oftentimes, unpredictable problems occur as a result of quality defects, miscommunication, or an operational breakdown. Whatever the cause, the reaction to it from customers is likely very similar. The part that you can control, however, is how these unpredictable customer service problems are addressed in order to make your customers happy again.
Properly dealing with unpredictable customer service issues really boils down to one thing: employee empowerment. When you empower your employees to be able to fix the issue in any way they can without needing to cut through a bunch of red tape, it improves both your customer’s experience with your brand as well as your employee’s satisfaction with being able to confidently address the issue quickly.
There is an international luxury hotel chain where losing a customer could be worth $100,000 over the life of that customer. They do not want to lose one customer, so they give their employees a pre-approved budget for addressing and fixing customer service problems. They don’t want to aggravate the customer by forcing their employees to ask them to wait while they get permission to do the right thing from their boss.
Of course, there is always the possibility that you or your staff doesn’t actually know what the proper solution to the problem is. This naturally happens more often with unpredictable problems that with predictable problems. A good solution in this case is to ask the customer. You could say something along the lines of, “I want to do whatever it takes to make this right. What do you think is a fair solution?” This helps you make a better determination of what the best solution to address the problem really is.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. It always comes up in these “the customer is always right” conversations. You’re thinking it’s easier said than done, and that customers will inevitably take advantage of you. The reality is that this is true, there will be the occasional customer that takes advantage of your goodwill. Instead, think of it this way: 98% of the time complaints are valid. To let the 2% of the time that they’re not be the tail that wags the dog is not the right approach if your desire is to be an excellent service organization. Consider it a cost of doing business; it’s a cost of service recovery that occasionally there’ll be a customer who takes advantage of you.