For every one that reaches management there are 12 that simply give up

By : Rudy Vidal | | Category : Voice of the Customer

Today, while driving I heard one of my favorite radio programs, NPRs “This American Life”. The story was about a long distance customer’s 7 month long odyssey trying to rectify a $900 billing mistake.

The customer tried her best to contact the appropriate department, and although everyone seemed to agree the problem was legitimate, she was promised help without results – FOR 7 MONTHS !

The final blow came in a collection agency notice which resulted in the radio show’s involvement.

As I listened it was clear the frustration was the result of a feeling of powerlessness. Time after time, as she followed the maze of transfers, customer support agents would reenforce that the proper procedures were being followed denying the customer’s request for other options.

It wasn’t until the radio show became involved that she received the attention of a higher “judge” who was empowered to fix things.

Such lengthy resolutions usually involve internally focused policies and procedures which forget the point of view of the customer.

We trust our policies and processes, but many of them, put our customers in endless loops without options, except one – give their business to our competitors and remember us as a source of grief and stress.

Things to consider:

1. Customers should never feel there is no other option to solve their problem, unless it is a customer you are willing to loose.

2. The best way to make a customer relax is to give them some semblance of control up front – your name and direct line is a good start.

3. By the 3rd customer attempt, your chances of satisfying them are less than 30%. If a customer has to reach out more than once, there is a problem. Make it yours.

4. For every customer that reaches upper management, there are 12 that simply give up.

5. The “higher judge” should always be an accesible option.

We need to proactively look for those policies and procedures that hurt our customers. The only way to find them is to look for hurt customers, not wait for the complaints. By the time they get escalated, its simply too late.