02 Nov Communication Is Key (when things go wrong)
Having open lines of communication with your customers is always important, but never more so than when things go wrong. When reporting an issue, investigating a late delivery, or any number of possible problems, your customers will want to be in the loop every step of the way. As a service provider, you’ll win major points with your customer-base by proactively communicating during the resolution process.
Make it easy
The first step in proactive problem-solving communication is making it easy for your customers to report an issue and to follow up with a live person. Some companies are great at one but perhaps not the other. For your customers’ sake, it’s important to have an avenue for both reporting and following up. The almighty Google is great for many things, but offering a phone number or email address for their customer service team is not one of them. On their help page, there are dozens of pages loaded with frequently asked questions to guide users to a resolution for the problem they are experiencing. If none of those resources help, you can visit Google message boards and discuss your problem with other users. If you can’t find your answer there, good luck. It’s notoriously difficult to contact Google’s customer service team.
On the opposite end, smaller companies often have phone numbers and email addresses publicly available but offer no way to quickly report an issue online. If you can’t step away from the many distractions of life to make a call and likely wait on hold, even reporting an issue becomes an issue. This is the first and often most frustrating step for customers, so make it easy for them to report a problem and reach you if need be.
When an issue is reported, providing answers to frequently asked follow questions will take some of the burden off your customer and cut out unnecessary back and forth for you. If a customer reports a late order delivery, you know they’re likely to want to know what happened, an estimated time of arrival, and where they can check the status of their inquiry. Having a template that answers these questions will enable your customer service team to provide quick feedback and put customers at ease.
Sometimes when problem-solving, the temptation to fudge the truth about why things went wrong looms heavily. Don’t fall victim to the enticing pull of flowery excuses or outright lies. We are in an age of authenticity and transparency. Customers want the truth as desperately as they want answers to their questions. Sure, there may always be that one customer who uses any hint of admitted fault as an excuse to go on a social media warpath, but most will appreciate your honesty and effort to get things resolved. If you do honest work, a few mistakes along the way are not fatal, as long as you are willing to go the extra mile to resolve the problem.
Nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect your business to excel while never encountering any problems. Customers will have questions and need your help at some point along the way. Giving them an easy avenue to tell you what’s going on and follow up, providing them with the answers they need upfront, and being transparent about the issue will positively impact your reputation and give your customers a boost of confidence in their continued investment in your brand.