Category Archives: Customer Relationship Management

Why refer me to your feedback link?

Aaah, don’t you love it when you provide a customer service team member with feedback, and they refer you to a website link for you to give them the feedback you just gave them!

Melbourne IT recently gave me the pleasure of that experience.

Gary RyanI asked their team member, “Why would I now spend time typing in my feedback when I have just given it to you?“.

She responded, “Oh, I’m sorry, maybe I could record it for you?

Yes, that would be appreciated.” I responded.

However, I don’t have a lot of faith that my feedback will have been recorded because, based on my experience, I’m not confident that Melbourne IT have a system for their staff to enter feedback on behalf of their customers.

Such a system could work like this:

  1. Customer provides verbal feedback.
  2. Customer service team member clarifies the feedback to make sure that it is properly understood.
  3. Customer service team member asks the customer if they would like them to enter the feedback to their system on behalf of the customer, confirms the customer’s email address and sends a copy of what has been entered into the system via email to the customer.
  4. The customer has the opportunity (if they wish to do so) to check and edit the feedback via a link provided in the email.

Companies must understand that feedback is a gift from their customers. They need to make it as easy as possible for customers to provide their feedback gifts. Smart companies understand that at least one-third of customer issues are caused by the customers themselves. They understand that you can’t help a customer better understand your products, services, terms and conditions etc. if you don’t know that your customers are sometimes confused by them.

Smart companies choose to love their customers, which means they forgive them for the things they get wrong.

I didn’t have to offer to help Melbourne IT with my feedback. I could have easily not told them that their system wasn’t working for me and moved to a competitor. I don’t think they understand this reality; otherwise they would have already made it easy for me to provide my feedback, not hard.

The obvious lesson is to ask yourself, “How easy do we make it for our customers to provide feedback to us?“. It needs to be as easy as possible.

There may be immediate opportunities for you to take action that will help improve the quality of the service experience that you provide your customers. Take action now, and make it as easy as possible for your customers to give you the gift of feedback.

Gary Ryan was awarded the Honorary Title of Senior Assessor for the Customer Service Institute of Australia in 2006.

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good®.

How to resolve issues caused by customers

When you raise the standards of customer service in your organisation, customer expectations also rise. This is in the context that your customers will expect your service or product to be provided at least at the same level as their most recent experience.

Fluctuating service levels equals poor service. Your performance will always be judged by your customer’s most recent experience versus the expectation they have of your service or product. It is not possible to deliver great service if your organisation is not set up to provide great service every time.

Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For SuccessIn order to provide consistent service experiences for your customers you need to balance the passion of your staff with the systems and processes that you have in place to support your staff.

Service recovery is what you do to correct a mistake and/or when your customers perceives that you have made a mistake (up to 33% of customer complaints are caused by the customer!). If you don’t have a service recovery system then your staff will either do nothing to resolve the error or they will make it up on the spot. The latter approach may resolve the problem but the next time the same customer experiences a service problem a different staff member may not do anything to resolve the problem. The result – fluctuating service levels!

The flip side of this example is to have a system that is so rigid that your staff have to follow a procedure even when they recognise it isn’t appropriate for the situation. When your meal arrives late at a restaurant you want an apology and a ‘fair’ offer to repair the poor service you have just experienced. You don’t want a pen (yes this is what happens when management misunderstands the principles of service recovery; a pen is offered as a fair ‘fix’ when a meal arrives late!).

Your systems and processes need to support your staff. Your staff should have a range of options at their disposal so that they can determine the fairest choices to offer their customers. By ‘choices’ I mean that from a service recovery perspective a customer should be given the power to select the fairest option from their perspective to resolve the problem. When you have a system like this in operation your staff can use their passion for service excellence to select (from their secret menu that is known to the staff) three options that are suitable for the situation. If the customer doesn’t like any of the options then your staff member can add items to the list of choices. The customer remains in control of the selection of what is fair within well thought out parameters set by the organisation. A system such as this supports the passion of your staff in creating great customer experiences.

My point is that if you don’t have these types of systems in place then your staff are left to their own devices and your service is guaranteed to fluctuate. Why? You will always have some issues that your customers have created. Remember, one third of customer complaints are caused by your customer. When you have a service recovery system that is designed to support your staff and you understand that customers get things wrong too, then you and your staff won’t freak out when a customer makes a mistake. Instead your staff will help them to resolve their issue in a way that both corrects the issue and allows your customers to save face in the process.

Likewise when your staff make a mistake they won’t freak out either. Instead, they will use the system that is set up to support them to resolve the issue in a fair way that improves your customer’s experience. An interesting anecdote is that resolving customer issues/complaints actually increases customer loyalty. Who wouldn’t want that outcome!

Quote from a research participant

It really annoys me when I know that the level of service that I receive is 100% dependent upon the person who serves me. Jill is great, but the rest of them just don’t stack up to her standards. As soon as I get another realistic choice, I’m going to try another company.

How do you balance human passion with systems and processes?

Gary Ryan has led multiple award winning teams for service excellence and was awarded the honorary title of Senior Assessor for the Customer Service Institute of Australia in 2006.

Gary Ryan enables organisations, leaders and talented professionals to move Beyond Being Good.

OHS&E, Privacy and Risk are all about Service Excellence

A service approach to occupational, health, safety, environmental, privacy and risk management issues means that your underlying approach is not one of compliance, but one of creating an environment that is safe and productive for your staff, and one that is safe and respectful for your customers.

A service approach means that you proactively schedule reviews of these aspects of your work so that you are never out-of-date. This means that you may go over and above standards set out by the law. Sometimes they just aren’t what the standard should be.

What is your organisation’s approach to these aspects of service excellence?
©Copyright Gary Ryan 2011
Research Participant
I used to get quite stressed about safety compliance issues. Once I shifted my thinking and recognised that safety isn’t about compliance but about being able to deliver great service, it somehow made it easier.
Why not use this article as a catalyst for Conversations That Matter® within your workplace.
Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

RACV misses second chance, will there be a third?

In a recent post If you treat me like a number I’ll behave like a human I shared a story regarding the RACV being ‘happy’ for me, a long term customer, to ‘try out’ their competitors for $70. For many years I have spent thousands each year being insured through the RACV, for both personal and business purposes.

Having discovered the their competition’s ‘normal’ price was 25% better than the RACV’s ‘discounted price’ on vehicle insurance, and the RACV’s reluctance to see me as a human being with whom it has a long term relationship, I sought the assistance of an insurance broker to help me find a business insurance policy to replace one that was due to expire with the RACV. The one I have now purchased was just under 10% cheaper than the RACV policy.

My assumption is that RACV uses a sophisticated Customer Relationship Management System (CRMS). Such a system would have a significant amount of information about me including my entire history of insurances with the RACV.

As a result of recent events this system should include two critical pieces of information

1. I received a quote for a new vehicle insurance through my business that was not activated
2. One of my business insurance policies expired and was not renewed

I have been waiting (and wondering) if the RACV would contact me to discuss our business relationship. My assumption was that these two pieces of information would cause some sort of a ‘warning’ within their CRMS that something had gone wrong with our relationship.

Yesterday I received a courtesy call regarding the business insurance renewal. I explained that I had gone with another provider. To my surprise the RACV representative could not end the call quickly enough. There was no request to know why I had chosen to leave, just a polite “Thank you, good-bye”. Should I have been asked I would have been happy to politely share my story, to off the RACV the gift of my feedback.

I couldn’t help but think that the RACV is losing a long term customer and it either doesn’t know, can’t see the signs or simply doesn’t care.

As each of my insurances fall due I will continue to see what the market has to offer. Already I have saved multiple hundreds of dollars through moving two policies.

Prior to my recent experience the last time I had investigated what the ‘opposition’ had to offer (as far as my insurances are concerned) was in 1993. Since then I had been paying my renewal notices under the illusion that I was a valued customer of the RACV. I was the classic ‘loyal customer’.

The $70 improved rate that the RACV refused to provide me on the new car insurance has already cost it two policies worth several thousand dollars. Does that make any business sense at all? If the RACV had provided that $70 differential, which is clearly within its profit range because it does provide that extra 5% discount to people, then I would have continued to be a loyal customer and not researched what the opposition was offering. When I discovered the huge differential I could not help but wonder whether I had been lulled into a sense of getting a good deal through my loyalty, when in fact my discounts were being applied to uncompetitive rates. In a strange way the RACV has done me a favour through its poor service as I am now saving money by going to their competitors.

How is the RACV using its CRMS to help maintain strong relationships with its clients?
In the long term can they afford to treat loyal customers in similar ways that I have experienced?

I wonder if I will be contacted at any time to discuss our relationship?
Will the RACV do anything to try to recover this situation?

If you have a CRMS how do you use it? Does it help you to maintain healthy relationships with your customers? What would you do in this situation if you were the RACV?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com

Slideshare Presentation – Interview with Tony Lendrum

Gary Ryan interviews Tony Lendrum, Founder of 0 to 10 Relationship Management and author of his 3rd book “Building High Performance Business Relationships“.

Learn about the Storyboard, Six Principles and Five Themes required to create high performance business relationships.

Please ensure that you allow enough time for the audio to load prior to pressing play (loading times will depend on the spend of your internet service)

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at http://garyryans.com