Written by: Kushal Dev | Co-founder, Customer Guru
A friend of mine recently booked her 2 lap flight from Hyderabad – Delhi – Kolkata from a leading online portal. Some last minute changes and she had to cancel the second lap of her journey through the call centre which was confirmed and acknowledged. She did an online check-in and arrived at the airport in time only to be informed at the check-in counter that there is no booking in her name! The online portal’s retail counter at the airport was of no use either as the helpless staff could only rudely inform (read “unhappy employee == unhappy customers”)it was only a sales counter and addressing customer issues was not its “role and responsibility”. The only option left with my friend was to book an expensive ticket at the last moment and account it in her shoestring student budget.
The nightmare started when she asked for a reimbursement. It triggered a series of hour long calls, calls on hold, false promises of call back, repeated follow up with managers, their managers and their manager’s manager for more than 2 weeks. Frustrated she made a complaint with the consumer forum when she promptly received a call from the company and her ticket was reimbursed in full!! I fail to understand the company’s intentions. They were at fault, took long to acknowledge it, and spent valuable time of their personnel fire-fighting. In the end incurred huge cost as a last resort to delight the customer maybe or avoid further trouble. By that time the damage was done. My friend had resolved to never do business with them and had informed her friends on social media, in the gym, college etc etc on the harrowing experience she had to go through the hand of this travel portal.
Are companies concerned only with customer acquisition? They must remember however that bad customer experience will create detractors and drive their customer acquisition costs. Only if the travel portal guys were prompt in resolving my friends problem the story she would have narrated would be a totally different one, recommending their services in turn lowering their customer acquisition cost!
So what steps should the company take to provide better experience and make better customer experience a culture in their organisation
- Define a process – It’s important for your frontline to be aware on steps to be taken on receiving a specific complaint. They should be in a position to commit a timeline to validate the problem and expedite the resolution. This requires that the different departments in your organisation work in tandem with a common goal to provide immaculate customer experience. Click here to read the 5 step process to implement a customer experience program successfully
- Hire and train– Hire people that share your vision of customer experience. Train them with your processes, best practices and skills to resolve customer issues and provide enhanced experience
- Empathise genuinely– When your customers are in distress, acknowledge their pain. If you are at fault, apologise. Justice denied is justice delayed. If you are the cause of customer distress make sure to resolve this at the earliest. If its delayed for genuine reasons explain and inform the customer. Make sure that your intentions are right here coz you can’t fake it forever and your customers can easily look through if you fake it.
- Be Consistent – provide a consistent experience across channels. You should be able to recognize a client’s preference, buying pattern, concerns, feedbacks etc irrespective of the channel they are connecting with you. Technology is a great enabler here. Use it to your advantage.
- Interact – Customer touch points are your best opportunity to learn about your customer. Use them effectively whether its an online or offline interaction. Listen to them and analyse their feedback. Make sense of what ticks your customers and what puts them off. Its your best chance to measure how your initiatives are being received by your customers. What you should do more and what to discontinue.
- Empower your frontline– Your customer facing representatives either in the call centre or the retail centres are the face of your organisation. Along with proper training its equally important that they are empowered and encouraged to address customer issues. Not only is it a lot more effective in resolving issues quickly but instills a sense of ownership in the team. Drives their motivation and works in cycle of happier employees leads to happier customers.
What else do you think we can learn from this example? what changs would you suggest?
Please leave in your comments, thoughts and ideas.
Reach kushal at firstname.lastname@example.org