Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Drain the Swamp Instead of Fighting the Alligators

My son needed a haircut so I took him to a local salon. After waiting only a few minutes, I said to the receptionist, "It's freezing in here."

She replied, "I know. Our customers are always complaining that it's too cold."

"Why don't you turn down the air conditioning?" I asked.

"The owner likes it this way."

I went to my bank to make a deposit. All the pens attached to the chains were out of ink. I had to wait several minutes to get an employee's attention so I could request a pen. I said, "All the pens are dry."

"I know." She said. "Our pens are always running out of ink."

The climate of the building needs to be set with the comfort of the customers in mind. If your customers complain about being too hot or cold, adjust the settings.

Banking customers need pens. When they're chained to the counter, it's a message to the customer that he or she cannot be trusted. Banks should put out a whole tray of pens with the company name, web address and phone number on them. That way, if a customer does take one along, it will provide that customer with easy access to important information about the bank.

Think about the times when you've complained about an inconvenience and an employee responded, " I know. Our customers complain about that all the time."

Your customer complaints are alligators. If several customers complain, you've got a swamp full of alligators. When a business hears the same complaint from more than one customer, it's time to drain the swamp. Get rid of the problem that's attracting the gators.

If you know that something is annoying your customers, change it. Otherwise, they will eventually go away. Customers are too valuable to ignore their feedback. There's no point in listening to your customer's complaint if nothing is going to be done to fix the problem. Dealing with the same complaints over and over wastes a considerable amount of employee time that could be better-spent building positive relationships with customers.

Dissatisfied customers are gold. It's not mistakes that drive customers away; it's the way the mistakes are handled. When customer complaints are handled properly, loyalty increases.

To learn how to actually build loyalty while handling customer complaints, you can order the Teleseminar CD: How to Build Loyalty With Angry Customers.

You have permission to reprint any of my articles in your newspaper, magazine, trade publication, at your Web site or in your ezine. All I ask is that you use the entire article, my byline and this identifier paragraph:

Debra J. Schmidt, a.k.a. "The Loyalty Leader®", helps companies boost their profits by leading them to greater customer, employee and brand loyalty. Learn more at: http://www.theloyaltyleader.com/

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