Customer care starts with attitude. Everyone has to come to work with the perspective that they are working for the customer. This priority can get lost with internal squables and personal issues. It is up to marketing leadership to always make this a priority. Sometimes this requires a reset where we remind everyone that we are competing with our competitors for the customer's attention and business and not with each other internally.
With a proactive customer service attitude as a foundation, we can architect the ways to address customer care. Every customer complaint or request is an opportunity to delight. I find that customers are very reasonable and even greatful when you engage directly with their issues. In the last 10 years of providing direct customer support, I can only remember one occasion where a visitor to my web properties with a complaint did not leave as a satisfied visitor. There were several occasions where this positive engagement required several attempts but it always ended with a positive result.
Guidelines for Dealing with Customer Complaints
1. Be polite and never condescending
2. Listen to the cusotmer's issue
3. Repeat your understanding of the customer's perspective
4. Commit to address the problem if you can
5. Provide alternative solutions if you can
6. Follow through on your commitment
As I said, I only had one case where this process did not leave the customer satisfied with the result. In most cases, the customer left their complaint pleasantly surprised that their issue was addressed. These "complainers" were converted to be strong advocates over the years.
Online/Offline Customer Care
Using the sales coverage pyramid discussed under the Engagement section, filter your customers and address their issues through the optimal channel. For major accounts, this means a person on the phone or in their office. For novice visitors, this may mean an automated FAQ system. Choose the appropriate response for the value of the customer and resources you have available. Clearly, one size does not fit all.
Texas Instruments went to the trouble of duplicating their marketing content on the notebook of every sales person before wireless internet was routine. They saw this as a competitive advantage. This was a challenge due to maintenance and up-keep required to keep it current but it was a valiant attempt at customer service. Today, with the state of mobile wireless, it is important to include your sales organization in your service matrix with specialized access to personalized tools for serving their accounts.
Online/Offline Customer Monitoring
Many companies today are in process or in trial for data mining (Big Data) their indepth customer tracking information in the Cloud. New no-SQL technologies like Hive and Hadoop are making some of this discovery economical for the first time. While these results will provide some incremental benefit, it will not replace good customer support and there is no substitute for intuitive human interaction. A lot of the work currently in development is to capture the people interaction algorithms and mimick human response but the best sales is still practiced by humans.
Do track your customers and their activities where possible. Watch and listen to their events. Engage with them where you can add value and save their precious time. This will build your brand and lead to passionate advocates for your products and services.
This Web site is aimed at capturing some of the basic concepts I use when creating integrated marketing programs and leveraging the internet.
Phil Gibson ©2016