Mistakes will happen. Promotions will misfire. And despite best efforts, expectations will be broken. Organizations need to be continually thinking of not just how to avoid mistakes, but how to address them effectively when they inevitably occur. That requires investments in staff training, risk-management controls, and clear-cut processes for handling customer conflicts in a timely and holistic manner. Additionally, it means empowering staff members at all levels with the resources and access to resolve disputes in a way that leaves the customer feeling as if they've been treated with the utmost fairness – even if the result isn't perfectly ideal.
To be proactive in this pillar is to avoid costly reputational missteps. Customers who feel as though their problems were dealt with to the best of the company's ability are less inclined to share their bad experience. They're also less likely to turn a one-off negative encounter into a social media exposé.
Companies that excel in effective resolutions are ones which empower everyone on their team to “make it right”. Consider how Starbucks provides frontline staff the leeway to offer free drinks to ease a situation, or how Amazon equips its online client representatives the tools and access to resolve issues quickly and with one point of contact.
91% of Canadians say that when it comes to customer experience, quick resolution is important.
Humility can also be an asset. In the age of online reviews and instant social media feedback, companies that maintain their reputation are those that respond to negative reviews (e.g., Yelp) by publically acknowledging their missed potential, making direct contact with their unsatisfied customers, and taking transparent steps to make it right.
Champions in resolutions don't start fresh with every conflict. Instead, they have an operating model which clearly define the people, responsibilities, and actions needed to solve issues quickly and consistently. What's more, they have the measures in place to track and monitor customer issues to prevent repeat occurrences.
Sometimes the court of public opinion can get it wrong. Companies can be held accountable for events that did not happen as described, or for expectations that were set by the customer and not the organization. In these instances, the challenge is bringing everyone on the same page and reaching a resolution that will satisfy all.
Customers who feel as though their problems were dealt with to the best of the company’s ability are less inclined to share their bad experience.
Nevertheless, there will always be issues that don't end in the customer's favour. When this happens, the challenge is to find a way to protect the relationship (e.g., through discounts, added service, etc.) or respectfully part ways without giving the customer the motivation to injure your brand.
In short: Companies aren't expected to be perfect, but they are expected to respect their customers and be honest in their actions.
When you are ready,
let's do this.