Monday, 14 March 2016

You’re Only As Good As Your Last Transaction

In a world of readily available social media, feedback is instantaneous, global and potentially lethal to a business’ prospects. One dissatisfied customer can reach millions and cause irreparable damage to a business’ reputation.  How do you manage this?

A business is only as good as its last transaction.  This needs to be constantly remembered and reinforced.  We can no longer rely on someone forgetting an unpleasant experience five minutes later - social media has seen to that.  However, any of us in the customer service industry know first-hand how difficult it is to please everyone all of the time.  Statistically speaking, there will be bad days, however hard you try and you will experience awkward customers. 

The same applies from the customer side: they will experience moments where the staff member serving them “doesn’t get it” or who is having a bad day, or can’t explain clearly why something can’t be done the way the customer wants. 

There are several parts to the solution to this never-ending issue:
  • Training
  • The ability to think around a problem and explain it (not just saying, “It’s policy.”)

In terms of training, the more one can provide in terms of standard answers and processes, the better. 

The other part of the solution is instilling the empathy and ability to see from the other person’s perspective.  That takes a little longer and comes with experience. 

Here’s a real-life example from the newsletter of Michael Heppell - a Customer Service expert.  He was facilitating a “Service Inspiration Day” for a client and asked the delegates to go out onto the high street and ask various stores questions to which the answer was really obvious.  The idea was to see how staff in different stores reacted.  Here’s his story about what happened with one team…

One team arrived at the Apple Store in (location deleted) and asked the totally obvious question, ‘Excuse me, do you sell iPhones’? The response?

A dismissive, “Yeah, ‘course we do.”

It would have been so easy to say the equally obvious, “Thank you for asking and yes we do. Let me show you the whole range, they’re over here.”

Here’s why our clients were so upset.

It was Apple! Net promoter scores in the high 60s.  Legendary customer service?

And this was the worst bit. One by one other delegates gave their examples of where Apple had recently failed to live up to expectations.

It all came out - a business, which you would expect to be at the top of the charts for service, had clearly let down a number of people and scored… zero.  

And it came out in public (at least in a workshop).  Michael, however, broadcast it on his newsletter - so it’s now “out there”.

Is this what you want happening with your business?  It’s easy to make sure that it doesn’t!

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to offer solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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