Can’t Buy Me Loyalty!

Properly compensating for mistakes in the customer service world is essential; it can also be quite a quandary.   The art of finding a solution that both delights the customer and allows you to operate in the black can be tricky at best.  Obviously an ounce of prevention is the best method to go with.  The smoothness of your processes and people will help you focus on fixing the one-off situations with great service skills, smart business sense, and grace as they pop up.

With that said, let’s bring the balancing act into the light.  Sometimes a simple, “sorry about that” is exactly what is needed and expected.  Other times, you may need to write off the cost of your product or service completely.  In addition, there is an extremely long road full of choices that run the gamut between these two solutions.  A smart examination of where this fits within your organization will have a pretty dramatic effect on both profitability and customer loyalty.  A key point is to establish 3 or 4 categories/levels of problems that each has 2 or 3 solutions to provide guidance for your customer facing employees.

I’ve experienced both sides of this as a customer and as a manager of customer service.  Do you know what happens when you don’t provide enough compensation to a disappointed customer?  They get mad, they sometimes make a scene, they tell everyone they know, and they never come back.  Do you know what happens when you over-compensate?  Often, the customer feels insulted that you would throw money at them instead of offering an apology and a resolution.  So what should you do?

  1. Provide a meaningful, sincere, and empathetic apology – no matter what.
  2. Let the customer know that you would feel the same way if it had been you – this is a great way to show that you mean it and connect.
  3. Tell them your goal is to fix it – seriously, sometimes all they need to know is that it isn’t going to take 12 phone calls, 7 emails, 4 managers, and a Yelp to make it better.
  4. Provide 2 or 3 choices (no more) that fit the level of concern – and execute.

In the end, you will find that you can’t buy the love or loyalty of your customers – in fact, you’ll probably find a sweet spot that will help you determine where to draw the parameters within your organization.  You’ll likely see that on the months with the least amount of compensation and the months with the most compensation correlate to your lowest service scores.  Have a look – let me know if my assertions are true within your workplace!


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