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The People or the Process?

When issues arise when a customer is dissatisfied or a mistake occurs, it’s commonplace to blame employees for the customer’s discontent. Now I’m in the mindset that most people come to work to do a good job.

I believe that most people do not get up in the morning thinking “I’m going to purposely create chaos for customers and peers at work today!” Every once in a while you’ll find a knucklehead employee that just wants to do what they want to do, but that’s rare in my opinion. I’m more inclined to believe that it’s more than likely a process issue vs an employee issue.

When speaking of processes as the culprit, I’m thinking of two processes in particular:

The process/processes connected to the issue.
The employee training process for the process/processes connected to the issue.
Let’s take a look at each of these.

The Process/Processes Connected to the Issue

Identify and examine the process/processes connected to the issue. Are there gaps that create customer dissatisfaction? Employees create workarounds (Yep, I’ve done it too!) to bad processes.

Employees also create processes when an adequate one does not exist in an attempt to make sure things go smoothly. Remember, most people come to work to do a good job and often go to these lengths to do so.

The Employee Training Process for the Process/Processes Attached to the Issue

Now let’s say that the process is well-defined and contains all of the necessary elements of a good process. The next question to ask is – What does the employee training process look like? It doesn’t matter that you have a great process when the employee training process is lacking.

It’s imperative that employees are provided with the proper training to ensure that their actions do not negatively impact the processes in which they operate. Training should include verification that employees comprehend the training and can demonstrate the ability to correctly perform their process tasks.

When customer discontent presents itself, be more inclined to focus on processes. It’s not always a people issue.

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helloWhy is the Customer Angry
Why is the Customer Angry?

Why is the customer angry?

I see so much information about how to handle an angry customer. My question is – Why is the customer angry? Are multiple customers angry about the same thing? Does anybody know? I spent a lot of my corporate career asking this question.

There would be discussions regarding the need to properly handle customer complaint calls. My question would always be – “Why are we receiving customer complaint calls? Does anybody know? The complaint is a symptom of an underlying problem. Has anyone taken this into consideration?”

Customer complaints are often the product of broken processes. When one takes the time to identify and examine the process connected to the complaint, often there is evidence that the process is creating customer complaints.

During one corporate stop, a particular billing cycle created an inordinate amount of inbound calls from customers. I sat with a few customer service representatives to get an understanding of what about this particular billing cycle caused the inbound calls to spike, “It’s real simple Errol, the billing information received by the customer is wrong” is what I was told.

There was an error in the bill creation process for this cycle. After bringing this to the attention of the correct department, the error was corrected. Guess what? Yep, no more customer complaints because of improper billing on this billing cycle.

Are your processes creating angry customers? Are steps missing in the process that can create angry customers? Conduct angry customer prevention by examining processes that impact the customer. Take good luck with your customer-facing processes via process mapping to ensure they will not create customer complaints.

Mapping your processes step by step with the right people helps to identify improvement opportunities that can lead to the elimination of customer complaints. Remember – the goal is to not have a pattern of customer complaints vs focusing on learning how to handle customer complaints.

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helloHaste Makes Waste Boy
Haste Makes Waste Boy

“Haste makes waste boy.”

I heard this statement from my Dad a lot as a kid. I would often get in a hurry which usually resulted in me making mistakes. In one instance, there was a hole in a heater hose in my car. In my haste to change the hose, I created a bigger problem.

Well, you know who shows up asking questions ( I guess that’s where I get asking questions from.) to gain an understanding of what created the situation that I now found myself facing.

After determining that it was haste that contributed to the now bigger issue, he uttered the statement – “Haste makes waste, boy.” He wasn’t upset, wasn’t yelling (My Dad was the calmest person that I have ever known.) just said it in that low tone of his.

It eventually hit me that he was trying to get me to think things through before taking action. What is the situation? What steps are necessary for taking the right action? What is needed to assist in taking the right action?
It’s the same method that I utilize with clients when creating processes – asking questions. Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Getting answers to these questions requires one to think things through which leads to creating efficient and effective processes.

Even now, when tempted to get in a hurry, I can still hear my Dad say “Haste makes waste boy.”

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helloSales Tactics Do Create Customer Experiences
Sales Tactics Do Create Customer Experiences

How often have you heard this statement from customer service personnel within your company – “I wish those salespeople would think about what they’re doing when making promises to customers.

I’m tired of being yelled at for something that’s not my fault.” It’s important to remember to only promise what can be delivered when interacting with potential customers – especially when they are purchasing big-ticket items.

Here are a few things to remember when using promises as sales tactics to sell products and services to customers.

Promise Only What Can Be Delivered

During my years in the corporate world, the issue of “Why did the salesperson promise that without verifying if we could meet that commitment” would often arise. That statement was usually followed up with “They only think about their commission!” While it’s understandable that salespeople are motivated by potential commissions, it’s critical to make sure that sales guidelines are in place to ensure a positive impact on those persons within the organization that have to service the customer.

Whether it be customer service, accounts receivable or any other department that interacts with customers, salespeople must understand and adhere to the policies and or procedures when in sales mode.

Should the need arise for special consideration in order to “get the deal”, check in with those persons who will be impacted by whatever the consideration is before making promises to the customer? Remember – customers view the people within your company as “the company”.

Develop Internal Relationships

Years ago when beginning a corporate stint as an account manager/project manager, my first week was spent meeting those persons with whom I impacted in performing my role. My first question was – “How does what I do impact you?” That question was followed by this one – “What is it that you want me to do to make your job easy?” This question was followed by this one – “What is it that you don’t ever want me to do?” Asking these questions allowed these persons to elaborate on what they were held accountable for and how performing my job could either bring positive or negative consequences for them. By taking time to develop internal relationships, one communicates “We Are A Team” to others within the company. Yes, it takes additional time to ask these questions, but it’s well worth it later in the relationship!

Be Accountable for Your Actions

Should issues arise due to sales methods, it’s the responsibility of the salesperson to be accountable. I think salespeople should be kept abreast of every issue related to promises made, but not kept, that arise with their customers.

Doing so would assist in understanding the impact of one’s actions. Persons required to service the customer after the sale should know that they will receive the same internal considerations afforded to the paying customer.

When salespeople are held accountable for their sales methods, the level of employee morale increases as one does not fear having to regularly interact with customers who were provided unfulfilled promises during the sales process.

The sales component of a company’s business model is most likely the original experience for potential customers. Make sure that your salespeople understand their impact on the total customer experience by making sure they Promise Only What Can Be Delivered, by requiring them to Develop Internal Relationships, and by encouraging them to Be Accountable for Their Actions.

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