Service Lapse Recovery Requires Local Accountability
By Richard D. Hanks Chairman and President, Mindshare Technologies | May 19, 2010
People have an innate need to connect to each other. It's what drives us to be close to our families and friends. For some, this desire includes the businesses with whom they commonly associate. It's likely that your regular customers see your business as a friend and as part of the community, even though you may be one of hundreds of franchises. Think of young mother playgroups at McDonalds, or groups of college students frequently gathering at Starbucks. These customers are vital for obvious reasons, such as recurring revenue and positive word-of-mouth marketing. Theirs is a devotion that goes further than simple brand loyalty; it's much more personal than that. Your main job is to keep them happy, which isn't actually that difficult...until you mess up.
Face it, customers who regularly purchase goods or services from you will eventually run into a problem. While you may be tempted to assume that they'll overlook one faulty product, you shouldn't take it lightly. In fact, keeping these customers happy should be of the highest priority, and any complaints they have should be treated with urgency.
Addressing Customer Complaints
The good news is that a swift resolution can create even stronger bonds between you and your customers, because you're showing them that they are important to you and that their happiness is a high priority. In my experiences over the years, I've found four keys to properly addressing customer complaints:
- Give them a convenient forum to voice their complaint.
- Find a system that alerts you immediately to urgent concerns.
- Respond immediately!
- Respond on the local level
The notion is to discover the issue and act quickly on the local level. If the problem isn't resolved in a satisfactory manner you risk losing a lifetime customer.
Let me share a scenario that illustrates these four keys in action: Every Friday evening a woman stops at her neighborhood pizza chain (which happens to be a franchise) on her way home from work. One night she finds that her pizza is uncooked in the center. Upset, she seeks a way to voice her complaint with the pizzeria.