Odds are your company has at least some form of an appeasement program. It may be a well-planned, focused, accountable plan, or it may be just a raw philosophy of customer service.
While pleasing customers and appeasing disgruntled ones is nothing new, the impact dissatisfied clients can have has been greatly magnified by social media, message boards and websites created for the sole purpose of sharing customer experiences. Where once we asked family and friends about companies they worked with, today, 93% of consumers will check online reviews from strangers before making a purchasing decision. This is at once a bit frightening, but it also provides opportunity.
Is your organization taking one of the following approaches to customer appeasement?
“The Customer is Always Right”
No, they are not. Customers order the wrong sizes, don’t read instructions and sometimes order medium steaks when they meant well-done. The customer is not always right. By the way, the cliché was coined by London department store founder Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909. While the store was a huge success in its time, Harry’s lavish spending, inattentiveness to his taxes and large debt led to him being forced out by his board of directors in 1941. That, however, doesn’t mean customers shouldn’t be heard and appeased.
“You Win Some, You Lose Some”
Some companies take this approach to customer satisfaction. While it may be healthier than “The customer is always right” philosophy, there is something almost fatalistic about it. You may not be able to achieve 100% customer happiness, but there are steps you can take to minimize damage from disgruntled customers. If you can’t turn an unhappy customer into an ambassador, you can prevent them from becoming an enemy. In time, they may become a fan. You shouldn’t accept “losing some” when there are solid appeasement measures you can take.
“You Can’t Make Everyone Happy”
Appeasement isn’t always about making someone happy. It can be about managing your reputation, resolving potentially festering, unsolved customer service issues and getting a second chance. You don’t throw away a car because the muffler is loud. You fix the loud muffler. That said, if your customer service reps are not happy your customer surely won’t be either. Should they be empowered to make their own appeasement decisions when faced with an irate customer? Is there a way to keep close tabs on these decisions?
The Elements of Accountable Appeasement Programs
Companies seeking to proactively manage reputations and improve customer satisfaction levels must take the time to invest resources in a manageable, affordable customer appeasement application that can be managed and monitored. It should entail the following elements.
- It will facilitate delivery in the customers preferred method. This may seem like a minor element but delivering an appeasement coupon or gift card by their preferred method (email, text, social media, chat) demonstrates your commitment to their satisfaction. It also delivers immediate remediation.
- It empowers CSRs yet holds them accountable. Any appeasement application should empower your customer service reps to resolve issues on their own yet hold them accountable for abuse. Supervisory personnel should be able to keep track of CSRs who may issue rewards too liberally.
- It will minimize customer abuse. Companies are frequently concerned about customer abuse when implementing an appeasement program. One of the most effective ways to handle this is through a single-use coupon or gift card that is used once and can be tracked when redeemed. This also facilitates a follow up on customers once their single-use offer has been used.
- It can resolve issues promptly. One of the keys to customer appeasement is getting the problem resolved quickly. The longer a customer remains unsatisfied, the more likely they will spread their dissatisfaction to friends, family and online. Contain the fire. About 95% of people who have a negative customer service experience will proactively share it with others.
- It is versatile. You’ll want an application that is versatile enough to help remediate a variety of situations at multiple levels.
In short, a well-designed customer appeasement plan should resolve issues promptly and be delivered instantly (when possible). Your company can benefit from empowering your CSRs but you still need to monitor them. Of course, you want to minimize potential customer abuse and be versatile enough to address a variety of levels of dissatisfaction.
In summary, single use gift cards and coupons can be issued instantly (within your guidelines, of course) in a variety of digital formats. This extinguishes small fires before they can escalate. Customer service reps have the power (again within guidelines) to resolve issues while their issuance is closely monitored. Because it is a single use card or coupon, customer abuse and company liability is minimized.
About the Author
Dan Slavin is CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker, a provider of mobile marketing solutions. He was CEO of Framework Technologies, VP of Open Market, and CEO of International Testing Services. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.