It's always nice to have options. When customer service professionals are faced with a situation where a client is not going to receive what they were promised, it's a good idea to have options for the client that will help alleviate the problem. However, those options need to make sense. In an attempt to alleviate problems customer service professionals sometimes present solutions that don't really address the client's issue.
A few years ago I remodeled my kitchen. One morning at 8 am the countertop installer called with bad news. “They sent the wrong backsplash tiles. Your installation date is this morning, and if I don’t come and install these tiles you may have to wait weeks until I can get back to you”.
The job was already weeks behind and he was probably dreading my reaction to another delay. But I was at a loss to figure out why he’d think I’d prefer to have a tile I didn’t want and didn’t order installed in my pristine new kitchen. It seemed to me like he wanted me to accept this change to make it more convenient for him! I’m sure the salesperson that helped me design the kitchen would have been appalled to know what the installer was saying to the customer.
While I knew my salesperson would have never wanted the installer to suggest installing the wrong tile, as the customer that installer was representing the company and the message they send. Faced with a difficult situation the installer was trying to come up with a way to appease the customer.
Unfortunately his solution didn't really alleviate the problem. It's common that frontline people don’t have the ‘people skills’ needed to consistently satisfy customers which can create friction in delivering products and/or services.
As I have told this story to others, I've heard many examples like this from others in many different locations and industries. If you are wondering why customers leave your company, or don’t recommend it to others, start to pay close attention to what your frontline people may be saying to your customers.
Fortunately for me, I called the salesperson who put me in touch with the customer service department. They were able to put a rush on my tiles, rearrange the installers schedule, and my tiles were installed two days later. That was an option that clearly addresses the problem and provided me with a solution that was not as ideal as delivering on the original date but was satisfactory to me and clearly illustrated their commitment to delivering a quality installation.
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