by Tim Brady
, Business Editor
Solving complaints quickly can turn an unhappy customer into your biggest fan
What’s the one thing you will always remember about a company with which you do business? How you were treated as a customer.
What’s the one thing you do if that company provides frustrating, aggravating customer service? What if you have to argue your way through the entire process, starting with the first person who answers the phone or stands behind the customer service sign?
If the customer service rep can’t answer your question, or doesn’t have the authority to resolve your issue, yet refuses to consult a supervisor, it can leave a very sour taste in your mouth. If you’re like most people, you tell everyone you come in contact with about the experience—how bad it was and how it didn’t get resolved in your favor.
We’ve all been there, done that. It could have been a cable company, phone company or a vendor/service provider to your business. However, the real issue is what customers are saying about your customer service, especially after they’ve had a service breakdown or even a perceived service failure.
Following are three scenarios as to how customers will react, depending on how well the problem was resolved:
- Angry, unhappy and telling the whole world. In this age of Facebook, Twitter and online public forums, a breakdown in resolving a customer’s issue has the potential of going viral. And like the telephone game, the chances are what started out as a small problem turns into one of Armageddon proportion.
- Okay with the results; plan on remaining a customer; and tell you they’re fine with the outcome. In this scenario, you are the only person who will know.
- Amazed, bewildered, pleased beyond any expectations they had going in. They feel as if they’re the most important customer you have. Rest assured, in this scenario, customers will tell everyone with whom they come in contact what an amazing company you have; that you have people who really care; and that you’re actually interested in their business and well-being. You’ll jump through hoops to make them happy.
So, how do you want your customers, shippers, receivers and brokers to react when they’ve got an issue concerning your company? I’m presuming No. 3 is your pick.
Exactly how do you go about providing that kind of high-end customer service when you’re a small or micro-motor carrier? It’s simple. Make sure the person who can really solve the problem is the one who answers a customer’s calls. Who’s that person in your company? If you’re the owner, that would be you.
It’s not crazy. You must be thinking that you don’t have enough hours in a day now to take care of all your responsibilities, let alone taking all the calls of all the problems that come up in a day’s time—your company would be at a standstill.
Let me be clear: I’m not suggesting you do something I haven’t been doing for years, both as a trucking operation owner and now in the business of providing information to the trucking industry.
THE RULES OF SERVICE
Following are a few basic rules we have in the company I co-own and manage:
A TEAM OF SOLUTIONS
- All customer email comes directly to my partner or me. In this way, we can evaluate each email; if there’s a serious problem, we handle it quickly by providing the customer with an upper management resolution. As owners of the company, we have plenty of latitude to go far beyond what we could permit employees to do on their own. If it’s a simple request or problem, it also permits us to communicate with the customer that a) we’re very much aware of their issue; b) one of us has assigned a specific employee to handle it; and c) we’ll be monitoring it to make sure it’s resolved to their satisfaction.
- All customer phone calls are answered by my partner or me. We either handle the problem or direct it to a staff person for resolution. Again, that puts the customer at ease, knowing the top people in the company are aware of what’s going on and are monitoring the progress of the resolution.
- While it should rarely occur, in those situations where an employee is unable to solve a customer problem, they need to be trained to know when to engage one of us in achieving a final solution. Simply put, never argue with a customer. If they’re not happy with the resolution the employee has provided and it’s the last solution available to the employee, then return the customer to one of the partners for a resolution.
Our objective is to always take care of the customer. And just like a lateral pass works in football, if the receiver is blocked in his progress to the goal, give the ball to someone who has a clear path. In other words, it’s all about teamwork.
I’ve followed this system of providing customer service and problem resolution for more than two decades, in offices with as few as two people to ones with as many as 20. When you have a problem with a company, you want to talk to the owner or CEO, and your customers are no different.
If you can’t give your customers the resolution they want, at least give them the person they most want to talk to in the company.
Keeping customers is just good business.
Tim Brady or call 731-749-8567. Join Brady in the Trucking Business Community at www.truckersu.com