It really does make you feel good when work goes well. Every now and then customers take the time to tell a business what they think. Mostly this is when things have not gone quite so well, although statistically it is only a small number who actually take time to complain. The rest just never shop or use you again and probably tell anyone who will listen about their bad experience.
This is very bad for the business concerned as they are oblivious as to how they have underperformed or upset the customer. Most companies (now here I exclude just about all large corporations - especially banks, telecoms or utilities!) will welcome complaints. It is a chance to put things right. Handled well you could change things around and keep the customer for life.
Things will occasionally go wrong in any customer experience and the test of any company is how they respond. Flights get cancelled, things break and staff go sick but how do organisations cope with this and communicate with their clients? The rules of the game are quite simple but generally forgotten. Admitting the problem and apologising up front rather than any defensive statement generally helps take the sting out of any complainant. Quickly followed by 'How can we now rectify this for you?' will, with most reasonable customers, set the conversation in the right direction.
It is so easy to fix most errors if the staff are empowered to do so. Yet many companies still allow their staff to hide behind the front 'Management will need to sort this out' – 'They have not got back to me'. Who are 'They'? If only companies realised that all their staff represent the company. Of course 'they' do take this on board when they are taking money from you, but there seems to be no understanding to let the staff use commonsense and sort out issues.
When things go well all relationships flourish but very few customers take the time to pass this on as feedback. We have one business where this happens naturally at the end of every day and the staff love it! To feel valued and respected is priceless for moral, and if we are honest is possibly more important than money. To see customers beaming from ear to ear and emotionally so high is a privilege. This is only possible in certain specialised operations and not common in most industry segments.
To illustrate our own philosophy I wish to sing the praises of one very large business, Apple – the Bristol branch. I decided to take the plunge and switch from a lifetime of PCs to an i-Mac. I phoned the store and asked for advice. I was invited instore for a consultation to ensure I understood the product and be confident it matched my requirements. At the allotted time my consultant was ready and waiting and we reviewed the range. The time and care with which I was treated was quite exceptional and I purchased a computer and many assorted accessories.
This is when things went pear-shaped as their despatch team had given me the wrong computer to take home. I realised within 10 minutes of getting home and phoned the store. Their response could not nave been better and the smoothness of reply was a credit to any industry. They gave me complete confidence that everything was in hand and arranged the switch to the one I required.
They phoned me one week later to see 'How things were going and was I comfortable with the Mac?' Is so happened there were a couple of things puzzling me and after a 30 minute conversation they had solved all my problems. As a slightly grey (not yet silver!) surfer the age difference between me and the Apple staff was significant. Their product knowledge of Apple and PC was considerable and their customer handling was a credit to any business. Customer service at its best and yes, I tell anyone who will listen.