Say I’m sorry

I was inspired to write this post following the recent problems customers with the o2 phone network have been experiencing. I am also a 02 customer, however fortunate to be out of the country, so currently in the hand of another foreign network.

I have however been closely following the 02-network problem via both my personal Facebook account and Twitter. Both display angry and frustrated customers who are affected both personally, being unable to connect with friends and family and also financially due to their businesses being affected.  All seem completely in the dark and unaware of when they might expect ‘normal service’ top resume. I have also noticed a number of comments suggesting customers with o2 should be able to cancel their contract due to the current difficulties faced.

This is what pushed me to write this post. I am not completely au fait with the legal and contractual constraints. However one thing I do know is that O2, so far seem to have failed miserably in communicating and updating their customers. This will not have helped customer satisfaction and loyalty. Within the contract we are contractually obliged to ensure payment each month in exchange for the use of the network and service so I do not know what this means when it is unavailable.

In regards to customers being given the opportunity to cancel their contract early? I am not sure this is fair on O2. I understand the inconvenience it causes to customers, however I have no doubt that O2 are doing everything within their power to deal with the problem. We rely so heavily upon IT today that such problems are going to become evermore an occurrence. Another recent example is the NatWest Bank saga. However it would seem that services need to start adapting and being more prepared for such occurrences. Expect the unexpected.

So how can services and brands deal with such problems and be more prepared for such occurrences in the future?

 Communication is key; a crisis communication strategy.

In this day and age, processes are heavily automated and there is precious little human involvement between consumers and companies both generally and when something goes wrong. Why is it then, that so many companies discourage the words “I’m sorry”.

If a company said sorry and updated its customers on what was going on (even if they didn’t know, be honest) it will help build a stronger customer relationship. I am a strong advocate of taking advantage of these “moments of truth”. This is when a company truly demonstrates the value it possesses to its customers. It is the formula for creating longer-lasting customers and more delighted ones as well.

Use complaints as an opportunity to improve

Develop a new way of thinking, and identify any complaint as a very important piece of feedback and treat it as such by your company.

Top tips for complaint handling

1. Establish a philosophy or ethos for the operation. An example of this is: “We believe that each customer that complains is giving us an opportunity to make things better. We also take the attitude that customers are giving us feedback on our product or service that we may have overlooked. If we incorporate this feedback into our approach, we will be better able to meet their needs and thereby be more successful in the future.”

3. Thank the customer for the complaint and qualify it by saying something about how hearing the complaint will allow you to better address the problem. “Thank you for letting us know, we value our customers feedback both positive and negative so that we can continue to deliver the best service we can.” Explain to the customer why you appreciate the complaint and you could offer to update the customer on what different approach you have taken following their compliant. Show it has not fallen on deaf ears.

4. Do not make excuses or use the words “but” and “however” in your conversation with the customer. Do not appear defensive.

5. Ask the customer what it will take to meet their needs or to satisfy them. They may be so dissatisfied that they will not chose your service again, however if there was something you could offer them to ensure they did come back what might that be? (within reason of course.) Sometimes they only want to let you know something happened; they don’t necessarily want anything from you.

6. Do not say “I need to check that with my manager”. Your customer is already angry or inconvenienced so will not want to be left waiting or passed onto someone else. Try to deal with it there an then (if you can.)

7. Correct the mistake as quickly as possible. Research has proven that the sooner a complaint is resolved with the customer the greater the satisfaction and the more likely the customer will remain buying from you.

8. Promise to do something about it quickly. Always offer your name and telephone number (this gives the customer a feeling of control). Give an air of urgency to the call. Rapid responses say you are serious about service recovery to the customer.

9. Check customer satisfaction. This can take the form of a very short customer satisfaction survey. Survey Monkey is a very useful resource and is completely free.

10. Remember, the customer is always right.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Excellent blog you have here.. It’s hard to find high-quality writing like yours nowadays. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

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