Friday, September 27, 2013

First things first!

A very recent situation with one of our customers reminded me of a situation that bears discussion. Some say that "customers are always right." We know that that's not really the case. But whether they're right or wrong, we want them to walk away from a problem feeling satisfied. Whether by providing clarifying information and allowing them to understand something better, or by truly fixing a problem, the outcome must be positive.

The particular situation that happened recently was a customer reporting a problem to us, but not doing it with a new customer support ticketing system we had just setup for their use. Literally the first thing that popped into my mind was, "Dang it! Why didn't they use the new system?" The second thing that popped into my mind was, "Dingus! Read the freaking problem and worry about the process later!"

Never put the customer's problem at a lower priority than having him comply with some process your company has designed...
Rep <answering support phone call>: Super support line, can I help you?
You: Yes, I wanted to report a critical problem with your product.
Rep: Thanks for calling, but did you know that you can report that problem online at our website?
You: Uh, yeah, ok. But I wasn't near my computer and thought I'd just call it in to you for quick handling.
Rep: Thank you, but it's better if you report it through the website in the future.
You: So you don't have the ability to log critical problems?
Rep: Yes, I can, but we like it better when they come in that way.
You: So why do you still have the support phone line?
Rep: For folks who don't have access to our website.
You: So can I just tell it to you now?
Rep: Yes, please go ahead, but try to use the website next time if you can.
You: Uh, I forgot what the problem was...
Okay, you may think this is an exaggeration, but I've had this happen to me before. Is it useful information that I can report problems online? Sure. Is that fact more important than actually getting a critical problem logged in and fixed? Not likely. Yet, here you are, being berated for not following their procedure. Your actual problem has become secondary. That is bad.

Instead, how about this:
You: Yes, I wanted to report a critical problem with your product.
Rep: Please go ahead, sir.
Rep: Thank you very much, and we'll get that reported immediately. Also, in case you don't know, if it's ever more convenient for you, we offer the ability to log problems in at our website. It makes things a little easier for us to track that way, and you can follow the status of your requests.
You: Sure, thanks!
Always handle the customer's situation first. If you have any information for them about a different way to handle things, or any suggestions for next time, then go ahead and have that discussion. Having had his problem handled, now he'll be in the mood to listen to some other process points.

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