Customer Service Problems--Help Employees Look at Customer Complaints from the Customer's View

Alan Boyer

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Most employees, business owners and managers are so close to the problems that they frequently miss what’s right in front of their eyes. As a customer service consultant and trainer I frequently get to come in to help pick up the pieces and get to see the causes behind the scenes.

What I see the most frequently is the technical staff, those that have created the products or services and understand it so thoroughly that they can’t understand why a customer doesn’t see what they see. The usual result is that the employees say “Stupid customer” when they should be asking why the customer is even asking for help.

Let’s look at an example:

    I was recently working with a client who said he was getting frequent calls from customers saying they couldn’t download files from the website. Every time he looked into it the employees assured him that everything was working. When I looked at the emails there were 4 or 5 that basically said “Can’t download file xxxxx. pdf”. [More than one would indicate there is likely a real problem, or an misunderstanding on how to do it. ]

    The employee checked the download. It worked for him so his response back to the customer was “It works here. ” A CYA answer, internally focused. Not a hint of getting what the customer wanted, the files.

    After sending several emails one of those customers sent an email to the president asking why they had not gotten the problem resolved. The president looked into it, got an assurance from the employee that there was nothing wrong and that this was one of the really stupid customers that didn’t know how to download. So, the president let it drop based on the employee's assurances.

    Let’s analyze what just happened.

  • Customer's View

      A customer said he couldn’t download files from the website. Do you see that the customer wanted the files he had tried to download, and he had even offered assistance. But he got no help at all to get what he wanted. . . the files.

  • Company View

      The website had been set up to deliver a series of sales steps to customers starting with the free PDF files they were trying to download. If the customer doesn't get the files, I’d say 98% of the customers went away in the first 3 seconds. That basically says that these 4-5 customers represented about 250 potential prospects, with 245 of them going away. The employee should be trying to find out why a customer was having the problem instead of “Works here” which only aggravated the customer.

There are two clear issues missed here:

  • Not meeting the customer’s needs (getting the files). Help your employees to always look at it from the customer’s perspective before they respond. Always deliver what the customer was looking for before taking any other step. If you don’t know what the customer wants, ask, and then deliver.

  • Not resolving the problem. Even though it had been checked by an employee he was so used to push this before pushing that while standing on the left foot that he wouldn’t recognize a problem that was caused by someone standing on the right foot while pushing the button. And, believe me, if 4-5 let you know there are others out there having problems and you’ll never know it.

    When I checked the website statistics, the website had thousands of viewers on that page, and no one had yet downloaded a single file on that page. Does that say something?

    And, of course not one person had ever called to buy that product from the website.

    What would happen if we looked at this from the customer’s viewpoint?

      First, the customer had actually tried to download something from the website that HE WANTED. But the response he got appeared as “I checked my work at this end, I’ve done my CYA and I’m covered. ” Not a thing mentioned about the customer’s need.

      A better answer from the employee might have been,

        “Thanks for notifying us of a potential problem. I’ve attached copies of the files you requested in the email. [Gave the customer what he wanted]. Sorry you were having trouble. We’re looking into it. If we called you would you help us understand why you were having trouble downloading so we could prevent the problem for other valued customers? You would be a big help to us. I’ll even send you a free xvxvxvxv for your troubles. Thanks!”

    Do you see how different that is. First it meets the customers needs, and 2nd it attempts to resolve the customer’s problem, and the company’s.

    Alan Boyer
    President/CEO of The Leader’s Perspective
    Customer Service Training that really works.

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