Customer Complaints: Own The Issue

Proactively monitoring customer satisfaction in your business improves everything.   We’ve touched on finding complaints in the past.  You can’t do enough of that work.

But how your organization reacts to customer complaints is even more important.   If you can’t get complaint resolution right, fold up your tents and quit or sell the company.  You must live by a culture of “every complaint properly handled every time”.  That does not mean robotic greetings and talk tracks that emphasize upsells.

Think of  a business version of The Golden Rule.

We recently saw both sides of the coin at our payroll company.  We love our payroll company.  They are always responsive, the price is reasonable and the service is easy to use.   But we apparently threw them for a loop when we hired an employee in another state.

We missed a payroll cycle and cut the employee a manual check.

And then we missed the next one because the state’s local information still wasn’t loaded in our database.

As the third cycle’s deadline approached, I called and cajoled, pleaded, begged and maybe even whined.  Please help us get this person paid properly.  In other words, please help us do the thing we pay you for.  Many folks were nice and helpful on the phone, but we missed that cycle too.

I called customer service before finding a new payroll service and received a promise that the person I was speaking with would do everything possible to help.  But here was the kicker.

I can’t promise you I’ll fix this because I don’t have access to that part of the computer, she said, “but I can promise you that I will continue to follow up with you until it is done.”

She owned the issue.

And she took ownership without my asking her to go that far.  An hour later, a letter arrived in my inbox.

The woman who had owned the problem assured me everything was done because she walked a printout of the account history to the department that could make the changes.

I’m not naive.  That doesn’t happen on every call.  But it could.  And maybe it should based on your business.  After all, what’s the lifetime value of any organization using yours to process payroll?  Or to do whatever you do?  We measure lifetime value in the thousands, and in some segments, the tens of thousands.

Your takeaway as a small business leader is to solve complaints fast and empower your employees to act in the interest of a resolution.   You can set up an escalation process, but be sure that the highest ranking person involved at any given moment owns the issue.

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