I have 2 beautiful daughters - Charley aged 13, and Roxy aged 10. On any given day, they will love each other, and then just as quickly squabble and fight with each other. Like most children - it quickly degenerates. Which usually ends up in me saying "if this continues, then there will be no dessert tonight". At which point they glare at each other, and then ever so briefly apologise (just loud enough for me to hear). It's a situation in which they say they are sorry, but in fact they are really not, they are only colluding for a common goal - called dessert! In reality, they are sorry (#notsorry)
In reality they are sorry (#notsorry)
With children this is a common scenario. But more often than not, this happens in companies where they don't value customer experience. Staff are not genuine in listening, or seeking to understand. More harm than good is created when they pretend to be sorry, while really defending their position and ever so politely telling the customer why they were wrong - and implicitly how stupid they are!
Similar to the example with my children, the issue is whether the company is genuine in understanding the customer. Whether they are interested in understanding their point of view, and whether they can help - either in making the current situation better or preventing it from happening again. The visual below captures it beautifully
This came to light recently at a CX critical thinking workshop I was running for a team of 50. The pre-work was to capture your best and worse customer experience. Interestingly, half of the best customer experiences shared was because of an initial problem, which got resolved promptly, and then the company went the extra mile to "make it up to them". They were made to feel valued and respected, and what was a problem become one of their best cited customer experiences.
In contrast, the worse customer experiences came from sheer frustration: that they had contacted the company, and explained the situation, but then they were told it was their problem and fault - again and again. As one participant recounted "I had recently been married and needed to change my name. This must happen quite frequently! But 3 phone calls and 2 in store visits later - and I was still being told I hadn't followed the process (which to date had repeatedly failed) and that it was my fault and there was nothing else they could do. I became so angry that they were actually blaming me - when I had been so patient and understanding - trying to help them, that I closed my account and left. And I've told as many people who are willing to listen about this, because I'm still so angry".
So what are the key insights here? Customers in general really do understand that everything is not perfect, and that mistakes or issues happen. But how they feel about their experience - is most dependent on your response (not the issue!).
How they feel about their experience - is most dependent on your response (not the issue!)
You can turn a poor experience into a great one - if you follow the below:
1. Always show your customer respect - that you are really listening and empathise with their situation. Understand the detail behind what has happened, and what is the root cause of their concern.
2. When you say sorry - be genuine. Don't pay lip service. Don't justify why your internal processes don't allow this to happen. Or why in this case they are wrong. This will inflame the situation. You are sorry that this happened and want to make it right.
3. Find ways to make amends. This does not need to be expensive - but it needs to be considerate. The customer is taking the time to feedback and helping you - so let them know you appreciate that. And despite the current situation - you are committed to making it better.
4. Thank them for their effort. In 99% of businesses, your customers have other companies they can get these same services. Thank them for the time and effort they have invested in helping you become better.
5. Find a way to fix the issue which has created this. Whether this is a quick fix or a longer term internal process redesign, the greatest way to respect a customer is to action their feedback, and prevent the issue from happening again. Tell them about it - they will be delighted that you listened and ultimately they have helped!
Just like when my daughters fight - and I can see whether they are sincere in saying sorry or not - your customers can tell as well. So be genuine. Be sincere. Be open. Be committed to addressing the issue. In a world when 90% of customers won't even bother to tell you (they just leave) - it really is a gift to hear feedback.
So be Sorry.....#genuinelysorry.....