Constructive Criticism or Raving Fan
Customer Service is not something you set up when you start your business and then you forget about it. It is not programs and processes that you implement and you kick back and relax, simply because you assume your process is working.
Recently we had a potential client contact us before Christmas and sadly the contact form on our website was not working. Cue customer service fail. So their first point of contact was unfortunately not received by us (plus we had no idea our website had gremlins). Thankfully the potential client followed it up with an email, and there were several emails back and forth trying to figure out how we can help the client and what services they were after.
It was right before Christmas so our schedule and our diary was jam packed (December was completely booked before the end of November). And obviously it is not this person’s fault that our schedule was really busy. We managed to book a time in January to have a chat and not surprisingly, one of the first things they said to us was the engagement process was a little bit disappointing. And I am sure she was sugar coating it for us.
“As a business owner, when you hear feedback like that about your business, it is pretty gut wrenching because you think that you have these things nailed. “
I have an email, I have an office phone number, we have a receptionist who takes our calls when my phone is on divert, I have an admin assistant who tries to respond to as many emails as possible (plus she books appointments and follows up on services required). But just because I have these systems and processes in place, does not mean I get it right 100% of the time.
I think it was the shock to me that, yes – I have these processes and systems, and while I thought it was foolproof, it was not. Customer Service, and making sure that first impression with any new potential client, no matter what your business is, is really vital to set up a positive working relationship.
And if their view of you and your business is less than average before they speak to you, then you are already on the back foot and you are having to make up ground just to get them over the line to use your services or explain the value as to why they should choose you.
So having systems and processes in place really means that they need to be checked systematically. Because what works one year, and at one stage of your businesses life does not necessarily translate to be a viable solution as your business grows. Or perhaps your business changes direction.
So we have taken the feedback on board, and I think hearing that feedback from a genuine contact is the best kind of feedback you can get.
So what are we doing about it? We are streamlining our contact points. We have identified that too many contact points means too many potential disasters (which we don’t want). We want people to call our office so we can respond in sequence, we have a firstname.lastname@example.org email address and Kirsten is taking charge of all our first points of contact. Consistency is the key.
“Most people would view it as a negative situation, but I think you need to turn it around and ask yourself – how can I turn this into a positive outcome. “
Yes you can apologies (and you should), but you also need to change. You need to review the systems, work out what is not working, and make sure that the next point of contact with any customer or client is going to be a better experience.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t believe that perfect exists in any form of the word. “
It just needs to be better. And you need to still review your customer service processes down the track to see if it can be even better than the new and improved version.