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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

3 Case Studies to Improve Your Customer Service

Written By: Mark E. Goodman | Comments Off on 3 Case Studies to Improve Your Customer Service

3 fingersIn the last few weeks, I have had three different customer service experiences: One delighted me, one disturbed me, and one disappointed me. Let’s learn from each of them.

First Case Study – Striving to Delight

While purchasing an item from a big box retailer, I asked the salesperson if there was a way that I could get a lower price. She explained to me that if I could show that I met certain conditions, the price could be cut in half. But I had to have the appropriate documentation.

Upon returning to the store with the documentation, we accessed the system and were told that I wasn’t eligible. The salesperson and the customer service person overrode the system and gave me the credit. Petty cool!

I stopped by later on and told the salesperson that I gave her a good review online. She noted that she had seen it and thanked me.

What can the big box retailer learn? First, that whatever they’re doing is working. I will return for future purchases and recommend them.

Clearly, this is something that can be done in person, and might be hard to do online. Hooray for brick and mortar.

But an extended learning might be to reward that salesperson. If someone gets all 10’s and a great review, more than just a “pat on the back” is in order.

Second Case Study – Having Good Systems

I logged on to my investment account at a large retail financial services company to discover that one of my investments had lost two thirds of its value. Upon further exploration on my part, I found out that there had been a stock split. When I contacted my advisor, he suggested to wait a few days for the system to catch up.

What can the financial services company learn? First, if there is a problem, telling someone to wait a few days to see if it will be magically fixed probably isn’t the best suggestion.

But worse than that, in this world of real-time data, having a system that needs a few days to make corrections sends an unsettling message about how the company approaches the financial markets. Is this the company I want to manage my money?

Third Case Study – Responding to Feedback

Lastly, I work with a business tools company. Periodically, I meet with their top management. These vice presidents and directors are always interested in how their product is working. So, I told one that I was having issues with one of the packages. His response was, “Well, you must be using an old template. You need to use one of our new packages.”

When I started using the new one, I realized that it did not have the capabilities of the older one. When I noted that to management, the response was, “We haven’t quite worked the kinks out of the new one – I’ll pass this along. Maybe someone can do something.”

What can this business tools company learn? First, if you want my opinion, really act on it. Offer to set up a call with one of your experts. Give me a personal email and ask that I provide further documentation.

Additionally, they should have a formal case file system to log issues. In the second situation, we should have opened a file and followed the issue through to resolution.

When I have a problem now, I don’t bother to talk to anyone. I just move forward on my plan to replace them. I really don’t think they care.

What Your Business Can Do

Want to improve your business? Here are three things you can implement:

  • If a customer is delighted, reward the delighter(s).
  • Understand that your systems reflect your business. Make sure they work as they should.
  • If you get negative feedback, work to solve the problem. Avoid excuses or obfuscations. Create either a formal or informal system to get the feedback to the developers or support personnel so the problem is known and fixed.

None of these are particularly difficult to do, but they demonstrate that you care about your customer and the quality of the service you provide. That is what keeps your customers happy and referring your business to others. And isn’t that what we want as business owners?

How do you handle customer feedback in your company?

Article written by
Mark Goodman is the President & CEO of e-Conversation Solutions. He is also past workshop chair at SCORE Chicago. Prior to founding e-Conversation, Mark held numerous positions as a technology executive, including Director of Business Development at Motorola, where he was the first business manager in the cell phone group. In addition to Motorola, Mark was an executive for a Silicon Valley company and a film buyer for General Cinema Theatres. Mark holds an MBA from Boston University and an MA in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University.