Drug testing

Treating the Customer Dissatisfaction Epidemic: How to Go Beyond Simply Masking the Symptoms

Corporations in every sector are spending more than ever before in an attempt to improve their customer service levels. Every year they pour hundreds of millions of dollars into new systems and training programs that promise them the ability to win customer loyalty. Despite their efforts, however, customer satisfaction results continue to fall. Why aren't these massive efforts paying huge dividends? One would think that by now the organizations that have committed these vast resources would have a large cadre of satisfied, loyal customers, but in most cases just the opposite is true.

Think about the scenarios that play out every day. Where is the "fast" in the fast food industry, when drive-up or walk-in service can now take ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes or more? Why are there so many telephone response cues that offer callers recorded messages warning that due to unusually high call volume, wait times may be many minutes long? Or how about local small businesses, such as dry cleaners and specialty stores, whose staff do not care enough to remember the names of frequent patrons? Today, customer service and satisfaction are more often than not abysmal.

The main problem is that the majority of the money being spent is simply masking the symptoms of the epidemic. As most people have experienced when sick, no matter how much cold medication you consume, you will still feel miserable because it can only mask the illness by minimizing the symptoms. The same holds true in business. Despite the corporate world's attempts at eliminating customer dissatisfaction, poor service continues to sicken the majority of consumers. If companies are to ever overcome this problem, they must get to the source of the epidemic and treat its cause rather than merely mask the symptoms.

Treating the Disease Within

The source of customer dissatisfaction stems from an organization's leader's unwillingness to see, identify with, and resolve the customer's true concerns. Therefore, all the training and indoctrination they can give their front

line people is little more than window dressing. If employees are not first educated to empathize with the "why" that drives their customers' desires, and second, if they are not empowered to instantly take the necessary action to effect the circumstances to exceed their customers' expectations, then there's little hope for improved service.

Here's an example of the disease at work: A business owner recently received an emergency call from a client to attend a hastily called meeting in Hunstville, Alabama the next morning. In order to attend, he booked a flight that had a layover in a major city. Because of the last minute nature of the trip, he could not obtain a first class seat on either the outbound or return, as both were sold out.

On his return, the flight out of Huntsville left late, causing him to miss his connector flight in Atlanta. After warming an airport chair for an extra couple of hours, he discovered that the next flight out was delayed as well. By now, due to the airline, he had lost a considerable part of his day. When he looked around the boarding area, it was clear that there were very few passengers for the evening flight. Before boarding began, he went up to the gate agent and explained politely that due to the airline's flight delays he had missed one connecting flight and would now be delayed once again. Given these circumstances, even though his ticket was coach, as that is all that had been available when he booked, he asked to be upgraded, especially since the plane would be 90% empty.

The agent was very sympathetic and asked how he wanted to "handle" the upgrade. He explained that under the circumstances he was requesting a courtesy upgrade. Her answer was that "she was not authorized to do so" without either payment or redemption of miles. Further displeased, the business traveler headed for the Customer Service Center, where he encountered a long line of weary travelers. With his flight now boarding, he abandoned his mission and returned to the gate. Once onboard, he counted six first class passengers out of fourteen seats. The rest of the plane was virtually empty. The airline patron could have become angry back at the gate, made a scene, demanded to see a supervisor, and received a courtesy upgrade. However, this was not what he desired. All he had wanted was to be treated as a valued business customer.

There's little doubt that the gate agent would have honored his request had the airline's rules permitted her to make on the spot judgment calls of this nature. Even more disturbing is that since first class was virtually empty, it would have cost the airline nothing to gain this traveler's respect and loyalty. The multiple delay problems had been the airline's, not the traveler's, yet they denied his polite request.

Given this information, how do you think this customer feels about that airline? More important, how likely is he to book a flight with that airline in the future? Most customers don't get irate easily, but they do have a long memory of poor customer service.

The Remedy is Within Reach

The customer service solution is simple. Educate your people as to how the customer feels when things go wrong. Teach them to empathize, as the gate agent did. And then take your training an important step further: Empower your people to make a real difference in creating opportunities to build customer loyalty. The cost to the company for doing so is typically small to insignificant, yet the payoff is often gigantic.

Copyright 2005 by John Di Frances

John Di Frances is an internationally recognized organizational legacy expert and keynote speaker. www.difrances.com

limousine chicago service
In The News:

Customers - Hold Onto the Ones Youve Got

You probably spend a great deal of your time looking... Read More

Putting The Service Back In Customer Service

The future of customer service is here. Technology has made... Read More

4 Easy Steps to Better Online Customer Support

Customer support is very important when you're running a business,... Read More

CRM - Its Relevance

In today's demanding economy, the first line of any business... Read More

What Every Manager Should Know About How to Win the Loyalty of Customers

Dr. Michael LeBoeuf, in his cassette album entitled, Win Customers... Read More

Foolproof Customer Service Strategies (That Only A Fool Would Try!)

Ever notice how customer service varies from store to store?... Read More

What Every Manager Should Know About How to Learn from the Complaints of Customers and Employees

Listening to complaints, whether they're reasonable or not, is a... Read More

Create Win-Win Deals With Your Competitors

In the competitive world of the 20th century, we generally... Read More

Wholesale Buyers Versus Retail Customers

Are wholesale buyers and retail customers really different? Frankly, there... Read More

10 Customer Service Quality Statements to Measure up Against

It might sound quick and simple, to say how well... Read More

CEM Can Improve Customer Loyalty

'A 5 percent increase in customer retention increases profits by... Read More

Outsourcing: The Unspoken Costs

Outsourcing seems to be the new-new thing and approximately 50%... Read More

6 Reasons Why Complaining Customers are Golden

With Some Tips on How to RespondTt has probably happened... Read More

Creating the Right ?Viral Reputation?

Unless you are brand new to business, or have been... Read More

All of the World of Business Is a Stage

One of the basics of acting taught to me in... Read More

Get Customers to Stop Calling You--12 Easy Ways to Save Money with Online Customer Support

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Web is not dead.... Read More

Customer Service - A Sweet Essence

First let us specifically define customer service. It is the... Read More

Over Deliver - The Key to Customer Satisfaction

Client satisfaction starts with meeting or beating the contractual obligations... Read More

Saying Thank You to Your Clients

"Thanking your customers" - Why you should do it and... Read More

Customer Service A Chickens Way

Anyone who knows me knows my favorite fast food restaurant... Read More

How To Build Stellar Client Relationships

Your opportunity to build a stellar client relationship starts with... Read More

Invalid Excuses for Poor Business Results - The Weather

Note to Kmart: It wasn't about the weatherIn the 1970s... Read More

Losing Angry Customers

This article offers five ways to help you deal with... Read More

One of the Secrets of a Great Customer Experience

A few weeks ago we conducted our annual "Customer Experience... Read More

Customer Service, Italian Style

Nowadays, we complain nearly all of the time about how... Read More

fluorescent street lights led manufacturer in usa Pete's produce ..