Respond to Customer
Inquiries and Complaints Promptly
With all the
talk about customer service and responsiveness, it is interesting
to note how many businesses talk a good game but just don't deliver.
We can all relate experiences with businesses where an appropriate
sense of urgency didn't seem to exist. One area that seems to
stand out is responding to customer inquiries and complaints.
When a customer,
or prospective customer, takes the time to contact a business
they are looking for some type of assistance. They generally
want initial information, additional information, resolution
of a problem or they just want to sound off about an experience
they have had with your organization. Unfortunately, most businesses
do a mediocre job, at best, of responding to customers in a timely
will expect to have their requests responded to in a reasonable
time frame. But what is reasonable? There is no standard rule
of thumb to define response time. Believe it or not, responsiveness
is a strategic issue and can be used to differentiate your business
from your competitors. Therefore, the standards you establish
for responding to all customer issues will determine the level
of differentiation you achieve. And the consistency with which
you are able to respond quickly will go a long ways toward determining
how loyal your customers become.
It seems that
many managers are afraid to press their employees too much when
it comes to responding to customers. Attitude has a lot to do
with how customers are treated. What attitude do you convey about
customers? Is it a casual one or is it a "customer first"
attitude? Your employees will pick up on your attitude quickly
and will often mirror it. At the very least they will understand
how serious you are about serving the customer.
A business can't
afford to be casual about how it deals with its customers. The
"I'm too busy" or the "you are just one of many
customers" excuses are just not acceptable! We experience
and hear horror stories constantly about poor responsiveness.
The level of incompetency in this arena is mind boggling. We
often wonder how something so obvious goes so wrong in so many
is part of your culture. Is yours a casual, "I'll get to
it when I can" kind of culture or is it a "I put my
customers above all else and make their issues a priority"
kind of culture? This is a key and fundamental issue that needs
to be addressed.
How would your
employees answer these questions?
- When a customer
calls and has a problem that requires a call back, how long does
it take, on average, to call them back either with an answer
or to let them know the problem is still being worked on?
- If a customer
leaves a message for an employee, what are the expectations in
terms of how much time can elapse before calling him/her back?
- What are the
policies regarding responding to customers?
- How much training
have employees had with regard to responding to customers in
terms of time management, prioritization of customer issues and
dealing with difficult or angry customers?
- At what level
does decision making occur regarding customer problems and inquiries?
- How well do
employees understand the company's products/services, its policies
and what the next level or step in problem resolution is?
clear expectations about responding to customers is critical.
To some organizations it might seem like a relatively minor issue.
Those organizations are bound to struggle. Those that have figured
out how to respond expediently, effectively and with a caring
attitude distinctly have an advantage over their competition.