Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Saying “We Are Sorry” Is Not Customer Service. Solving The Problem Is.

Solving Problems Is Customer Service.
Do not mix up politeness and good manners, with our obligation to be accountable for the consequences of our actions, whether on a personal or business level, especially when it’s about business, where you’ve people paying you to develop a product aimed to solving a specific problem.

Last week I saw a councilor of an I-do-not-know-which-city government office who was being interviewed on TV about the fact that, during her tenure, a company for which her brother was working, won (or was the beneficiary of) several of her office’s projects.

She just managed to apologize for what she considered was simply a “rookie mistake” and nothing more. That's it. No further response. No commitment. No amendment. Simply one phrase "I’m sorry".

The same frustration we all feel when listening to public figures just say "I’m sorry" and with that pretending to fix the problem they have created, and not making any serious commitment to change things, is the frustration your customers feel when the best they can receive from your representatives, otherwise your alleged customer service department, is an apology rather than a solution to the problem your customer has.

Only problem solving is synonymous of efficient service.

You may have trained your representatives to have excellent communication skills, but as everyone communicates differently, your agents must be sensitive to the perceptions of customers.

Rather than training them to be kind, train them to be effective problem-solvers.

Each time your agents say “I’m sorry" there is a customer behind who has complained, a customer who continues to have an unsolved problem. Hasn’t it ever happened to you that you’ve contacted a company to make a complain, and then their representatives have been lip-servicing you around for a while, making you repeat your story several times without getting someone to offer you a real solution at the end?

Is this the experience you want your customers to have? Is this how you want them to feel about your business? Customers always appreciate an apology from agents, but when “sorry” - or any similar phrase - is repeated in a conversation many times, customer satisfaction decreases, because everything is indicative of poor customer service, and definitely will end up being a waste of time for everybody.

A few months ago I bought for my wife some alleged "vibrating dumbbells" with which, at least in theory and according to the advertisement, my partner would be able to make low-intensity workouts for her shoulders and arms, with very little effort on her side. It turned out advertising had exaggerated product performance quite a bit and nothing of that was going to happen!

But in my case, and thanks to God, what did the company representative do? Instead of focusing on apologizing for their blunder, she reimbursed my money without making any further questions. I ended up feeling so happy with them that even wrote a positive review for them on Google for the service I had received.

Like Jesus, your client wants to tell you: “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

There is a passage on the Bible (John 8: 10-11) which clearly reflects what your customer policy should be: “Jesus straightened up and asked her: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”. “No one has, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Repeatedly telling your customer you’re sorry while the problem remains unsolved will not help at all in the whole situation. What your client wants is for you to come up with a solution, an answer, nothing more. Without lip-service or funny stories. Just a simple solution.

Why do we insist upsetting our customers when all we have to do is solve a problem they have?

You must understand your customer is telling you: "I don’t want to condemn you neither judge you", that’s not the key of the issue. “All I want is to solve a problem I have" and that would be it.

It is this commitment on your side what your customer is looking for, which will make them happy again, put a smile on their face, will allow them to feel comfortable with you and your business, and hopefully grateful for the outstanding service received.

Less apologies and more solutions.

Do you want to offer your customers an unparalleled service that openly sets you apart from what they receive from other companies? Try to decrease the frequency of the "apologies” game with your customers, and focus your efforts, and those of your team, in offering "more solutions".

The cost of keeping your customers happy, satisfied is always lower than that of recovering a frustrated, upset one.

You could even learn that solving your customer’s problem could even have you recognizing your product was not what the client really needed and then recommend an appropriate, more effective solution.

What could be wrong with that? Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment and think how you would feel if suddenly you come to realize the product you have in your hands does not serve the purpose for which you bought it, and yet, the company you bought it from turns its back on you and doesn’t offer you any alternative.

How would you feel? Scammed perhaps? I'm sure you would have preferred things had taken a different route. Wouldn’t you?.

I recommend you to read the following posts on this blog:
Loyalty and CKCH: When is it that you really lose a customer? 
I already bought your product. Now what?

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