Making It Right - Problem Resolution for High-Value Customers
Making it Right – ProblemResolution for High-Value Customers December |2010
Making it Right – Problem Resolution For High-ValueCustomersNothing makes or breaks an existing relationship with a customer like a problemhandled effectively or mismanaged. How high-value customers are treated duringa problem resolution process is of the utmost importance in hoping to retainthem…Companies making mistakes is nothing new. As consumers, we are no longersurprised when a wire we send goes missing, when a phone bill is accidentallyovercharged, or when a credit card charge appears twice. No matter howadvanced companies appear to have gotten with all kinds of new channels andgadgets for interacting with their customers, it’s really all just a façade.Underneath it all are broken processes, indifferent employees, and overwhelmedsystems.Over time, every consumer gets to see under the hood of the companies they areengaged with, experiencing first-hand that all isn’t right – mistakes happen, andhappen often. It’s not so much about these mistakes happening as to how theyare managed that is of the utmost importance for companies. Studies have ofcourse found that problem resolution, poorly managed, has a high impact oncustomer loss. What’s surprising is what happens when the opposite happens –when problem resolution is managed effectively – a customer’s overallsatisfaction is higher after the experience than before the problem even occurred!Not that this suggests companies should cause problems to occur and then fixthem effectively to increase customer satisfaction, but a very positive findingnonetheless.We believe that high-value customers should receive a customized level oftreatment in problem resolution efforts to ensure the experience doesn’t drivethem to leave due to a poor handling of the situation. There are six principles inmanaging the problems of high-value customers that should be observed,regardless of sector, by all customer care teams:1. Dedicate the Best – The first step is to ensure the best resources are put tothe task of resolving high-value customers’ problems. Be it in a call center, in acustomer service center, or in the back-office, the highest quality and mostefficient employees need to be assigned to resolving problems of high-valuecustomers. Based on the volumes, the most experienced, efficient, and effectiveemployees should handle such problems, from A to Z. If a high-value customercalls in and lodges a complaint about a given issue, a dedicated employee shouldhandle all aspects of the resolution, from start to finish, and give this impressionto the customer – regardless of how the process works in the background. Theemployee should handle all interactions with the customer from the lodging ofthe complaint to the resolution.
2. Prioritize – Regardless of the available resources or backlog in any of thecontact channels mentioned above (and others), high-value customers’ issuesshould be treated as a priority. If a high-value customer emails in a complaint,based on his or her value, the problem should be prioritized in relation to otheroutstanding issues. First-in first-out cannot apply, regardless of how fair a processit may be. Nothing can irritate such a customer more than to feel that they arebeing treated like any average customer. The value such customers generatedictates that they be treated in a prioritized manner in regards to problemresolution. Companies must ensure they prioritize such customer complaintsregardless of the channel it is received from, be it through Twitter, the call center,face-to-face in an office, etc.3. Manage the Customer – Throughout the entire problem resolution cycle(which in some cases can take weeks to complete depending on the issue athand), the assigned employee must closely manage the customer. This involvessetting the customer’s expectation as to when he or she will be contactedregarding progress on the issue, setting expectations as to when the issue will beresolved, and being transparent in all ways as to the resolution process. Too oftencompanies ignore this process, keeping the customer in the dark as to progress orlack thereof around the resolution effort, when a phone call or two and a timelineestimate for the resolution would put the customer at ease.4. Take Further Ownership – High-value customers who have gone through anegative experience will be on edge for some time, fearing such issues mayhappen again, not sure if they wish to continue the relationship. The employeewho has handled the entire problem resolution process should take ownership ofthe customer through giving his or her name and contact number, allowing thecustomer to contact them should any issues arise in the future. Such a gesture willgo a long way towards making the customer feel at ease, knowing they are ingood hands, knowing they have an actual person they can contact rather than acall center or website.5. Compensate – As a token gesture, if possible, compensate the customer withsomething he or she would appreciate upon resolution of the problem. Forexample, in the case of an airline, it could be an extension of the customer’sloyalty program high tier privilege or a couple free upgrades. For a telecom, itcould be a free handset, free international talk-time, etc. The reward should be inline with the customer’s value to the company as well as the severity of theproblem / distress caused.6. Follow-Up – After a high-value customer has had a negative experience thathas been effectively resolved, a follow-up contact is recommended to ensure heor she feels valued. A call by a branch manager in the case of a bank or a teamleader in the call center will go a long way in to ensuring the negative experienceis forgotten (at least until the next time something possibly goes wrong) and anyill will / desire to end the relationship is put to rest.
Using the above principles, companies can go a long way towards ensuring thathigh-value customers are retained and possibly even more satisfied than theywere before a problem occurred.
About Forte Consultancy GroupForte Consultancy Group delivers fact-based solutions, balancing short and long termimpact as well as benefits for stakeholders. Forte Consultancy Group provides a varietyof service offerings for numerous sectors, approached in three general phases –intelligence, design and implementation. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org Forte Consultancy Group | Istanbul Office www.forteconsultancy.com