How do you deal with the pains of customer service?
I work in the hospitality industry, and I spend a lot of money on what I call "guest investments" where I give some sort of discount, free merchandise, etc. in order to win back customers when something goes wrong. I can't tell if it's working or if I'm throwing money away. How does your business deal with the challenges of customer service and keeping people happy?
You very well may be "throwing money away" as you put it if you're not tracking to see if what you're doing is even working. How much are you spending on free merchandise? How much are you "losing" by giving away discounts?
It seems to me you may want to work on the problems that are creating this unhappy "campers" to begin with. You're in reactive mode and whenever you operate from this position you're gonna more often than not come out on the losing end...at least money-wise.
Here's my take on it all...1. Be Proactive - Prevent problems and make sure your guests are happy through their entire process. Encourage them to fill out surveys at the end of their stay.
This lets them know that you actually care. Most people are NOT looking for free merchandise or a hand-out - they want to feel like you care about them and that you'll remedy problems in a timely manner.
2. Give Out Gift Cards - Give out gift cards/certificates for use on their next visit. This way you can track their use and know if they're coming back.
Just my two cents...
Customer service is hard to achieve.
However simple tactics will work perfectly:
1. Hire the right people on board if you have staff. People who are patient and pationate with a service mentality
2. DIRFT (Do it right first time). This will minimize the hastle
3. Ask question and listen to understanfd not to reply
Put yourself in their shoes. Trading places will avoid conflict. May be if you are in the same situation you'll be doing the same
4. Follow up, follow up, follow up to check if they are happy or still have issues
Good customer service starts from within. Start by evaluating your own corporate vision, values, culture and communication. Enabling your employees to take responsibility for the entire customer experience and understanding why that is important to your business will reduce the "guest investments" substantially.
You might spend some time as a customer at businesses with outstanding marks in customer service and see what they do differently. Emulate what you like within your own business.
Most problems turn out to not be the customers. Their criticisms should be looked at as valuable business insight. Go track down the root cause, especially if you keep hearing the same things.
Good luck and thanks for reaching out for advice.
Recognizing the need for change is the first step to positive growth.
Great question. I deal with it through training of staff and building relationships with customers. Likewise, I work with the customer (HRD executives we train and license) along with our clients to keep in touch throughout our projects.
Customer service and pains are ironical. They are completely opposite. You choose to serve your customers well or go out of business. Don't forget, your customers remain loyal till they find a better alternative. Better in this case largely depends on excellent customer service.
Customer service shouldn't be considered a pain. If anything its' a privilege for you to be able to help those people. If you find that you are consistently clean up problems, then you need to look at how your customer processes and determine what is going wrong. Customer service should be proactive...ie. focused on keeping customers happy, and if it is reactive get to the root of the problem and solve it.
I'd guess that the real pain comes from not getting it right the first time. In addition to the waste and time and resources required to do it again, you've risked a customer relationship. Put a process in place where your people understand continuous improvement. Teach them the cost of not getting it right the first time and give them the tools and authority to fix it right here right now.
The quick answer is don't have an issue to begin with. The longer answers/questions are:
1. Are your People receiving initial training in the importance of keeping the customer satisfied? Do you share with them the complaints and commendations you receive from others?
2. Do you have a values statement of expectations as to how Customers are to be treated? Do you have a service goal and recognition program for your Associates? This is important so they know your expectations and when a customer is treated well, they should get some recognition. When a customer is not treated according to the values you set, you have to talk to the employee and reset the expectation. If you have already done this, is the orientation, training, focus maintained?
You are right, a discount only goes so far when it is given for an employees poor service.
Hi there. I agree with Carsten Schnier and Andrew Winig. Some customers are a little more difficult than others to please. When you go over and above and make customers remember the special and/or extra results your service and/or product yielded, it is worth it. It is true however, if you are steadily investing in fix-it programs and offers, it is more important to determine the root of the problem(s) so as to stop the unsatisfactory issues that are causing you to have to continuously pacify unhappy customers.
Although some instances are going to arise as every situation is not perfect, you want to avoid the situations. Finally, you do not want customers to get used to or expect unpleasantness from your company.
I go for striking on fair deal. When a prospect ask about my charges, I clearly told him that I goes all way out to make sure the prospect will definitely willing to pay. I.e. A price where the client will not reject but a loss to me. This is my "client investment", subsequent charges will be based on a fair charge where I am comfortable with and acceptable by client. I explicitly tell my clients that the discount only meant for 1st time, subsequent services will not be free and the big discount no more happen - the price will adjust to fair deal approach.
Ever since I use this approach, my new clients & repeated sales increase and no clients leave me at this point.
Why are you getting all these complaints ? Until you address this, nothing will change except the gifts you keep giving your unhappy customers. If you are using the "pains of customer service " phrase in front of your staff, they will see the customer as pains. Get to the root of these complains and fix them. Every time the actions of you and your team do not match the words on your printed material and website, the likelihood of a complaint increases.
Jason, we have to assume customers as babies, more we pamper more they demand. In my opinion its not a good idea to spoil them by offering too much trust me if you are not able to keep up with your trend then there is risk of loosing them. I have experienced that it is not possible to satisfy all the wants of a customer in the hospitality business therefore my focus would be on my quality, taste and any such USP that brings them to my business. I have learnt over the period of time that when management shifts their focus on strategies to protect them from the fear of loosing their customers, they actually start loosing them. So my suggestion is that first of all please overcome the fear of loosing customers and focus on maintaining the USPs / quality and stick to your business policy and stop facilitating each customer with customized deviations, trust me you cannot loose your customers if you are consistent on your quality. Look at big brands where customers know what they will get for the cost they pay nothing more nothing less but they will get same quality product which ever outlet they visit. Therefore we should focus on quality and service which according to my experience is the actual customer pain and we must fulfil according to the standards we have set, that would surely bring them back to us. Loyalty programs are a must and a gratitude for their loyalty as well as to be in competition but not your USP if you want to continue without the stress expressed in your question. Hope you find my suggestion useful.
Please offer value add services. I may help in case I have the case history.
Be upfront and honest with them...It is all about thinking outside in and having your customer service people align themselves with the customer...And not at the same time meet unreasonable expectations...Sometimes the customer is wrong...
I can tell right away that what you are doing is working because you are putting the needs of the customer first ahead of your own needs. You may think its throwing money away in the short term but in the long run that customer is going to remember the really nice things you did for them. In essence you are creating a long term relationship with that person which will pay dividends in the end.
Walt Disney looked at all of his customers as his personal guests and treated them as if they were guests in his own home. Everything about the show had to be perfect or else it wasn't worth doing. If that customer had a bad experience, Walt would do everything he could in his power to make things right.
At Colonial, there are a lot of value added services that we provide to our customers at no cost to them. We provide our customers with access to HRAnswersNow which is an online resource for HR people about state and federal regulations. This membership costs Colonial $2,000 per year per client but we provide the membership at no cost to the client because we believe in being business partners. Also we help our client's maintain their Cafeteria 125 documents in order at no cost and now we are providing complimentary flu shots for new accounts 50 and up. These are just the some examples of what Colonial does at no cost to the client.
In short, unlike our competitors who only think about product, Colonial feels that it is these no cost value added services that helps us create long term relationships in the end.
Suggest you try a stint working in Eastern Europe e.g. Croatia. For me it's all about dignity in service which they have in abundance over there. No loyalty cards or reward scheme just people who consistently greet you because they're pleased to serve you and happy in their work so I always return.
As a techie I used to think this way...until I managed a customer service department! As the final escalation point, I had the "opportunity" to deal 1on1 with the most intractable customers. I was surprised to learn that virtually every complaint was justified to some degree. This led to a number of policy changes within my department as well as within service provision. My suggestion is for you to spend some time on the front lines handling customer issues.
Well, it is all about having a Plan. If you Have a Plan, you can make it work. With no Plan, you cannot. There are 3 parts to an effective Plan, in my view: Relationship Mgt, Roadmap to Revenue, and Customer Happiness. I would do a few things: How are you using polling from both Happy and Unhappy Customers? If you are not, then taht is not a great thing. If you are, I would use that as a Code. Customer Happiness or Unhappiness travels faster than anything else. Also, depending on your clientele, the free stuff may not be the idea. It may be based more on the Value they believe they get from using your products. Again, not knowing your Customers, it is hard to say.
It's a good idea to identify the reasons you are having to "win customers back." In other words, what area(s) of your operation are creating issues? Actively track win back issues.
Once identified - look at those areas of your operation. Get together with the people that work in those areas to identify solutions for these winback issues. A good customer service system is built to avoid issues (proactive) vs respond to issues (reactive). Look at your systems and processes - step by step to determine if they are both customer and employee friendly.
Compensation is really a cost and a drag, but there are other hidden costs which are equally insidious and need to be teased out so they can be address.
I can mention two things - value banding helps you understand customers profitability and how to treat customers different. If you don't value-band, you can end up spending too much money on low-value customers (high costs) whilst spending too little on high-value customers (poor retention). You can also spend it on the wrong areas (attraction, growth and retention), which is very inefficient and therefore a waste of money.
From your website I understand you could have different customer categories. Your approach should include 'value banding' or separating customers into different value categories (similar to an airline, with their first class, business class etc). I would suggest starting with 3 bands (high, medium and low) or you might have different groups (frequent repeats, large conference customers etc). For each category (ie value band), you can have a different strategy for acquiring more customers, keeping customers and growing business (even moving into a higher category). You need to run a separate profit-and-loss report for each band. Often you find one category is more profitable than another, and start to treat them differently - encouraging the more profitable and not-encouraging the marginal.
This is just the concept. There's a lot more to it and if you mail me I can help you set up a structure which maximises your returns for each group.
The other dollar-waster is to focus on the wrong outcome. A 'met expectation' is a more important concept than 'happy customer'. That may seem obvious, but you need to work to distinguish the difference and avoid further wastage. You set a baseline of realistic expectations and this can differ per value band. An entry customer cannot expect a dedicated account manager, whereas a large account may do so (simple example). You design customer experience around this concept - allowing for adjustments over time and based on competitive offerings. This helps to inform your spend on each step of the experience, and also compensation policy. To get professional assistance with this design is money well invested.
Operationally, we have an interview-act methodology which is a tested system of sample exit interviews which provides scores and links these to KPI-compensation for staff and actionable changes, in the key areas of hospitality, should you wish to implement a pro-active approach which really works. If you don't measure by interviews, you don't know and can further waste opportunity. If you measure but don't change, you are wasting the investment in surveys. If you don't link this properly to compensation, you are over-paying poor staff and under-rewarding good behaviour.
A good system should pay for itself extremely quickly. Let me know if you want to run the numbers?