This shining beacon dims quickly when customers learn that what they’ve been told to expect doesn’t match up with performance. “Free” turns into “fee,” and promises of great service go out the door once the sale is concluded.
There’s a joke about a deceased man offered a preview of both heaven and hell before deciding where to go. Heaven is resplendent with white, puffy clouds and serenity; hell is afire with a raucous, hedonistic party. Impressed most with the latter, the decedent chooses hell. When he returns, it’s the stench-filled nightmare most envision. He asked what happened, and was told, “Yesterday you were a prospect; today you’re a client.”
And so it goes – offer anything to make the sale, even if it’s inaccurate or misrepresents the real experience. This creates a ton of customer angst and anger once it’s exposed.
With hyper-competition and pressure to keep stakeholders happy, the idea of under-promise and over-deliver has been turned upside down. Why is it that customers are being alienated most at the very time when emphasis on good customer service is at its highest? How do you combat it in your organization?
Here are a few thoughts:
Poor training. Training deficiencies can be the result of inadequate dispensing of accurate and educational information and/or insufficient attention paid to it. Just because good training is given doesn’t mean it will take – especially when trainees are less than totally invested in the job itself. Given that the problem can lie at both ends of the spectrum, it’s vital to make sure a total connection is made…and retained. Providing inadequate training and/or not testing to make sure important information is retained are surefire ways to lose business. There are many training and retention-testing methods. Make sure to invest in a proven protocol.
A work ethic that lacks attention to detail, accuracy and keeping commitments. The atrocious lack of attention paid to proper grammar and spelling is indicative of a culture that has devalued details and accuracy across a broad spectrum. If you’ve got a customer service rep that hasn’t been properly trained and doesn’t live by a code of attention to detail, accuracy and commitment-keeping…bingo, you’ve got the perfect storm for disgruntled customers.
Almost worse, when called on their deficiencies by customers, many of these reps have been taught to apologize profusely – which at that point can be really annoying, especially if it sounds insincere. Perhaps they should put that effort into getting it right the first time. To help resolve these shortcomings, hiring and training procedures need to emphasize the importance of details, accuracy and commitments, and constant reinforcement should be built into the mix. Watch closely for telltale signs of sloppiness in any of these areas (e.g., poor grammar, misspellings on routine communications). If they’re doing it there, where else is it occurring?
Overload. The adage, “haste makes waste” has survived for a reason. Customer reps who are overloaded will naturally gravitate toward behaviors that cause problems. The rep that would have double-checked with a supervisor about a customer service challenge under normal conditions may feel compelled to “wing it” because of work overload. That “winging it” very well can make the difference between providing accurate and complete information to a customer or not. One obvious way to gauge – and, if necessary, remediate – overload is to review performance on a regular basis.
Encourage the employee to address concerns and act on them in the most productive way possible. Companies unable or unwilling to alleviate legitimate overload on their employees are creating the perfect environment for a poor customer experience. If it’s a matter of too much to do with too little budget, remember that it doesn’t take a whole lot of dissatisfied (and former) customers to underwrite, at least partially, the tab for doing it right in the first place.
Laissez-faire employees. It’s no secret that many of today’s workers seem less than totally committed to the job. It’s a fast-paced world with fast-moving opportunities, and if something doesn’t work out with a minimum amount of effort, just go find another job. If you have customer service reps that fall into this category, either get them to screw their heads on straight or find other people more willing to put what’s needed into the job.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.