What do the phrases "Sort yourselves out!", '"When will you people listen?", "Shambles" and "Idiots" have in common? Apparently, according to the website, Broadcast, these are all 'warning signs' that have been given to staff at The TV Licensing to help them spot that customers aren't happy!
'Dealing with Disappointment' is something that I believe 'differentiates' customer focused businesses from others. It means that all employees are trained a) to spot 'disappointment', and b) to 'deal' with it. So, I'm all for training and developing customer facing staff (and all staff for that matter!), but surely this comes as a little 'obvious'.
Apparently, people are encouraged to spot 'key words' that indicate customers are dissatisfied. These include: "compensation", "complaint", "disgraceful", "disgusted", "incompetent", "appalling", "furious", "intimidation", "mistakes", "harassment", "rude", "threatening", "outrageous", "upsetting", "unacceptable" and swear words.
The guide also lists warning phrases, such as "I am extremely angry", "I demand an apology", "lack of courtesy", "your failure" and "I will sue".
Maybe it's me, but if I heard one of my customers saying any of those things, I'd like to think I'd be able to spot there was a problem.
Anyway, here are my 5 steps to consider when 'Dealing With Disappointment':
1. Acknowledge It!
A business that acknowledges that it got things wrong, particularly if it is 'out of character', and deals with it effectively, can often turn disappointment into 'delight'. In other words, just because things go wrong, it doesn't mean you've lost that customer. Acknowledging the problem can demonstrate that you actually care, and many will respond positively. In fact a real measure of the strength of your customer relationships is the size of 'cock up' you can make and still keep the business. (By the way, please don't take this as the key learning lesson from this blog and test it to its limits!).
2. Empower For It!
As a result, the best businesses 'empower' their people to deal with disappointment. I'm often sceptical about the word 'empowerment' because it's so over used, but in those businesses that do it properly, things get done when things go wrong.
Here's a simple test to see how 'empowered' your people really are. How much can your people spend or authorise without having to come to senior management for 'permission'? For example, Ritz Carlton Hotels give everyone in their business authority to spend up to $2000 to resolve a customer's problem or deal with a complaint on the spot without having to get permission from a manager. Now, THAT's empowerment!
3. Prepare For It!
What are the things that typically disappoint your customers? Why not get your people together and identify typical or regular problems, and then develop ideas and solutions to sort it out. Train them, put processes and systems to deal with disappointment.
4. Look For It!
Instead of just dealing with disappointment, successful organisations look for it. They don't wait for complaints, they go out and find them! In fact, these businesses probably get more complaints than others because their people are actively asking for them.
It might seem weird, but the easier you are to complain to, the more customer focussed you're likely to be!
5. Just Deal With It!
So go on, you know it makes sense. Disappointment? Learn to look for it and deal with it!