Bad Service Is Risky Business

06-1427728796-600x360

I’ve had the most miserable customer experience of my life this year.  I purchased a washing machine manufactured by an iconic appliance company.  It failed after seven weeks.

In the past several months I’ve spent at least two days in queue not to mention countless hours at the laundromat.  I’ve called customer service, customer relations and corporate customer care.  I’ve been transferred twelve times, disconnected nine times and promised six callbacks that never happened.  My retailer finally stepped up and replaced it.  I thought the nightmare was over.  That’s until the hose on the new unit sprung a leak and flooded the floor and soaked the walls two feet up from the floor.  Getting reimbursed for damages should have been easy.  It wasn’t.  It was torturous.

My guess is that senior management doesn’t have a clue what their customers are experiencing.  If they did, I’m pretty sure they would take action to course correct.  So they either don’t recognize their failure—or recognize it and don’t have the leadership skills to turn the company’s performance around.  Either way, they failed me.  In the end, isn’t that all that matters to customers?

Here are five key steps that could have resulted in a positive customer experience for me.  If you get these right, you’ll be in good shape to deliver on your brand promise:

  1. Grounded in mission: Clearly define and communicate your mission statement outlining who your company is, what you do, and why you do it is a basic sound business practice. All employees need to know what target they are trying to hit.
  2. Clear strategy: Leadership must define and communicate an overarching strategy on how the mission will be accomplished. The mission defines the who, what and why.  The strategy is the how are we going to do it.  Lay it all out there for everyone to see.
  3. Organizational alignment: Departments within the organization must define an aligned mission statement and a supporting strategic plan. In the contact center, the how, must include the organizational structure including supported functions (management team, supervisor: agent ratios, WFM, QA, training), technology requirements, measures of success and a roadmap to close gaps and deliver on the organizations brand promise.
  4. Execution: This is where most companies fail. Make sure you have the right people in key roles who can make the strategy come alive.
  5. Assess, reassess, refine and repeat. Strategies must always evolve to adapt to our changing environment.  Successful companies continually assess their performance vs. mission and course correct as needed, tweak or overhaul processes or implement needed technology, etc. and repeat, always repeating.  Subscribe to a continuous cycle of improvement.

Remember, products sometimes fail.  Customers get it.  When it happens, if you do right by the customer, they will be loyal.  If you don’t, you lose their business and everyone they tell about the experience.  And customers have very loud voices these days.  Bad service is risky business.

If you want to learn more about how your business can mitigate customer service risks, I encourage you to attend the ICMI 2016 conference October 25-27 in Dallas. You’ll get access to a rich list of resources—including Interactive Intelligence—to help you design a customer engagement strategy that doesn’t have to be so risky. Register for ICMI now, and when you go, visit Interactive Intelligence at Booth 611 or schedule a meeting or demo today.

 

Please note: This article was originally published in its full form in the September 2016 issue of the monthly journal Contact Center Pipeline, which focuses on the specific needs and challenges of the contact center.

Marilyn Saulnier

Marilyn Saulnier

I am a principal consultant at Interactive Intelligence with over 25 years of contact center management and consulting experience. I manage a global team of contact center consultants that work with organizations to define the center’s strategy, improve the center’s efficiency and quality of the customer experience, redesign processes, and implement and manage change. I'm also a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has led many training seminars in the US and abroad. I've also published articles in the Contact Center Pipeline, Middle-East Customer Management Insight, and Call Center Management Review.