Every time I speak with a business owner, a general manager or president of a company, they say with great pride “If a problem gets to me, I make sure that it is taken care of.” They believe that the customer deserves to be helped and that their needs are met. It sounds good, doesn’t it?
Well, it is NOT a good practice, and in fact, may be creating more problems for your customers than good will.
Think back to a time when you were a customer and asked your customer service representative, whether it was a cashier, sales manager, waitress, service department representative, librarian or a myriad of other people who you do business with to help you. Perhaps you want to return a meal that you didn’t like, get a refund for a faulty product, remove a late fee, provide compensation because a problem wasn’t fixed correctly or took too much time, and their response is “I can’t”, or “it’s not our policy”, or “I’m not authorized”, or simply, “No”.
You don’t want to take no for an answer, so hoping to find someone who both cares and is empowered to help you, you ask to speak to their manager—and even this takes a fight. When you finally do, they just shrug and say no.
You keep taking your complaint up the ladder until you get to speak to the boss, the big cheese, the great and powerful Oz. And in a blink of an eye, he or she says “sure.”
Happy ending, right? Wrong! By the time you have clawed your way to the top, you have become increasingly angry and frustrated. In fact, you are probably angrier now than you were before you started this process.
If having the head of the company say “yes” is not the best thing, what is?
The best way is to empower your frontline people to say “yes.” If ultimately, you were going to say “yes”, why make the customer fight so hard?
Some of my clients are afraid that an inexperienced person might give away “too much”.
In that case, empower them to say, “let me get a manager for you. He or she will be able to help get this resolved.” Generally, no customer minds being sent to a manager. What they really mind is having to demand a manager. Your customer will also know that their issue is important to your business.
You may also try training your frontline people with the “red rules, blue rules” method. Red rules are rules that cannot be broken under any circumstance (legal, safety, ethics etc.). Blue rules are everything else. Blue rules can be broken, and this gives your frontline people the flexibility to be responsive so your customers will leave happy.
If an issue eventually came to you and you would say “yes”, why not have your people say “yes” early and often?
The customer you save may be your own.