Recently a customer service manager had received several complaints about a new system that they had implemented. The feedback from clients was not positive. There appeared to be errors in the system design, and it was difficult to use. The product developers had not asked for input from end-users before creating and launching it. The product manager deflected these valid complaints by saying, “They’ll never be happy, regardless of what we do.” The problem has now escalated to the point where major clients are ready to leave.
Customers are the lifelines for most businesses. Vendors and suppliers do not have the luxury of sticking their collective heads in the sand (think “ostrich”). There is always a solution, but it may require setting aside egos.
Listen and Learn!
Then, listen some more. Frequent complaints indicate there is a problem, whether or not you agree about the significance of the issue. Unfortunately, product or service designers may not have directly worked with the end-users (aka their specific target market). Customer service people may not have an adequate understanding of how to resolve glitches due to limited work experience. Regardless, everyone’s lack of understanding can be costly. Learn first hand from actual end-users about the use-ability of your products or services.
Solution-Focused Task Force.
A simple concern can quickly escalate into a major problem when your customers do not feel heard. What’s the key? Put together a structured task force with both customers and people responsible for the design of a product or service (or, use your account executives or sales reps to elicit invaluable consumer information). Be sure everyone has the opportunity to voice concerns. When this process is handled properly, it reduces emotionally charged dissatisfaction, weeds out inflated egos, and unites the task force toward a common goal. Come prepared to impartially state the facts for both sides. Brainstorm possible solutions. Learn how to ask questions that elicit clarity instead of defensiveness.
Resolve it now!
Your failure to act quickly or to effectively resolve issues objectively can make a significant difference in the longevity of your company. Or even your own career. The solution can be very simple (e.g., clearer instructions). Other times it may actually require costly re-engineering with more adequate beta testing this time. Your clients’ eyes are watching you. In the meantime, they are assessing the perceived value of any of your services or products. The goal is to create a win-win outcome for everyone.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2010