My wife recently ordered some greeting cards from Current. One package of 30 cards only had 29.
Lesson #1: Lack of quality control will lead to more overhead in supporting customers after the sale.
Lesson #2: It is fine to work on improving customer service but don’t neglect the root causes of problems. Fixing those up front will alleviate a lot of the downstream issues you face everyday.
To solve her problem, my wife called Current’s phone number on the shipping invoice.
An automated message greeted her:
Due to high call volume, please call back in 1-2 hours.
She called back a few more times over the next week and got the same message every time.
Lesson #3: Don’t leave the follow-up to the customer. If you’re too busy to help a customer right now, they need alternatives or a proactive, scheduled response from you later. If you leave it up to the customer, they may walk away disgruntled and unsatisfied. Not everyone is as persistent as my wife!
Frustrated, my wife pulled up her order confirmation email. This had a different phone number that actually got her through to the company.
Lesson #4: Be consistently reachable. Ideally, you’d have one phone number that everyone can use to reach you. In reality, you may have several different phone numbers. These may be for different departments or even so you can track the source of incoming calls. No matter how many phone numbers you publish on the web, in emails, or your packaging, they better all work and connect customers to you!
After my wife explained the situation to the Current representative, she was told:
I can take care of that for you.
Lesson #5: Let your employees solve customer problems. If they have to defer to others or need approval to appease the customer, precious time and effort is wasted.
My wife was told:
Sorry, we’re out of stock of that item right now. What I can do is offer you a $2 coupon off your next purchase. Would that be OK?
Lesson #6: Focus on what the customer wants to hear. Tom Vander Well lists several things you should never say to a customer. Most of these include telling the customer “no” or “I can’t.” So tell them what you can do, keep it positive and work towards a solution.
My wife was happy with the coupon and the problem was solved. We’ll surely shop with them again especially since we now have a coupon beckoning us to buy.
Lesson #7: Not all problems can be solved with a coupon for future purchases. Your customer may be so mad they don’t want anything to do with you again and just want a refund. That’s fine because in this situation, a coupon may just be a slap in the face. Be sure to adjust your response based on the customer’s situation and attitude.
Read the previous issue of Call Center Chronicles, Episode 1: Nabisco