Cultivated Management

Unhappy customers cause cost

You know that moment. Panic! We’ve got an upset customer!

No matter how good your service is and team that support it, you will always have moments like this.

At times like this it is common for people to come together like you’ve never seen before. Everyone doing their best to solve the customer’s problem and make it right for them. Awesome.

When it happens once in a while it’s great to see a solution to customer’s issues, if it happens a lot you have a problem.

Unhappy customer’s cause significant cost:

  • Cost in good will and faith
  • Cost in people’s time as they drop what they were doing to resolve the issue
  • Cost in dealing with customer’s who have decided to leave your service/product early
  • Cost of a customer not renewing with you
  • Cost in the market place if a customer says something unpleasant about your service

So keeping customer’s impressed with your service is paramount.

In situations where customers are unhappy it can be easy to address this by building teams and process to deal with unhappy customers effectively, for less cost and with more impact. Essentially dealing with the symptoms not the cause. The harder thing to do is to look at why customers are unhappy and fix that.

Typically the cause of a unhappy customer is embedded earlier in the customer lifecyle process. Classic failure demand. Somewhere earlier in the process something didn’t happen, or was done incorrectly, which then leads to failure. Fixing the earlier system failures is crucial.

It’s hard though. It’s likely systemic. It’s likely cross-functional. It’s likely tied to budgets and costs. It requires buy-in from the highest levels and support from everyone involved in delivering the service. It’s a big challenge, which is why it’s often easier to patch at the tail end of the problem. But patching the symptoms doesn’t remove the problem. Costs will eventually go up.

As a manager try to get to the root cause of issues and address them there. It may take a ton of hard work to do so, but overtime it will pay for itself.

Here’s a quick tip on how to do it:

Metaphorically staple yourself to a customer and map out how they travel through your process. Use post-its, excel, note-paper – doesn’t matter what medium – what matters is it is visible to all who are involved in the lifecycle. Do this process with those who deliver the service – they will be the ones who know how to improve it and will be doing the bulk of the work to make it all better. This certainly should not be an activity that management do alone.

Once you’ve mapped it out create a new version – the design you want. In the new version remove activities that are not effective. Look for activities that are pure and simple table stakes (essential) – find any gaps and plug them. Then look for those moments where you can create WOW moments for your customers – and add the wow. The final design should be one of table stakes and Utopia. Aim high. Think big.

You now have two designs. One that is reality (the now). One that is the future. Your job now is to make the future design a reality by changing the system and process. Now the fun and hard work begins.