energizing breakthrough performance

The Art of Making Sure Your Customers are Happy and Keeping Them That Way

One of the modules in our “Achieving Excellence in Customer Service” training program focuses on how to handle an irate customer. This customer was unhappy, however, he was handled in a manner that kept his business. Now, let’s look at an unfortunate twist on customer service and the unhappy customer.

The next Sunday, the same customer called again and spoke to another customer service representative: His paper was again undelivered. The representative said that they were late delivering the paper because it was larger than usual. She did not know when it would be delivered. The customer called again an hour later, and once again the customer service representative who answered had no information. When the customer asked: “When can I reasonably expect to have my newspaper delivered on a Sunday morning?,“ the representative had no answer.

There are at least two problems with this customer experience. First, is that the people answering the phone in this case, did not make the customer feel like his problem was important to them. Second, it was clear by the second call, that either there was no customer service standard, i.e. a newspaper must be delivered by X time on Sunday morning—no excuses or that standard had not been communicated to the front line. Also, an underlying problem that was being communicated to the customer—the newspaper did not plan ahead to ensure effective customer service, e.g. an extra large paper means that you make the special efforts necessary to ensure that the paper gets out on time.

The follow-up to this second scenario is that the customer complained to the Circulation Manager about his experience. (He never did receive a newspaper the second Sunday). The Circulation Manager told the customer that the phone responsiveness issue had been “handled”. Later the District Manager called the customer to apologize and describe numerous staffing problems as his cell phone cut off his apologies and he had to redial the customer several times.

The customer cancelled his subscription to the newspaper.

Is this an isolated incident, just one organization where the “gang can’t shoot straight”?

No, the story is entirely too familiar and doubly troubling with the newspaper example because everyone knows that the newspaper industry is in decline already without any help from management and the employees! Bad service in a mature or declining industry here is like stepping on the air hose supplying oxygen to a dying patient!

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