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Smart Customer Support Teams Learn From Their Mistakes with Customers

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Smart Customer Support Teams Learn From Their Mistakes with Customers

September 22, 2015

  By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor

Most companies hope their customers will have great experiences doing business with them. They may not put any real effort to ensuring this happens, but chances are good they still cross their fingers and hope. Even the most well-staffed and well-prepared customer support center will make goofs, and inadvertently hand out a poor experience. Maybe customer support is understaffed that day. Maybe the manager made a goof in building the schedule or anticipating call volume. Perhaps the customer wasn’t clear about what he or she wanted. One way or another, every company will have a few calls a day that didn’t go as planned, and that probably lead to lost customers.

The important thing, however, is that companies learn from their mistakes. By plotting the road map of a disgruntled customer, it’s possible to understand where the contact center went wrong, according to Jeannie Waters writing for Customer Think. In the case of every poor transaction, there are questions the company should ask.

“Why is a customer taking the action they are taking at any phase of the journey?” wrote Waters. “What do they really want? If they want to achieve something, what are the barriers to completing the task?”

It’s important, however, to use factual information, call recordings, data from the IVR and the customer’s history to draw conclusions. Waters warns against bringing too many elements into the process, since customer journey mapping can easily become an exercise in fantasy, rather than reality. She recommends that companies prepare for their customers’ worst day with the company. This could be an excellent learning experience for any customer-facing company. To help enable a meaningful customer journey mapping solution, it’s important to empathize with the customer from the beginning. It’s doubtful that the customer simply woke up in a bad mood.

“If your customer arrives already frustrated, defeated, or angry, how much worse is the situation when it doesn’t go well?” Waters wrote. “What can you do to provide moments of delight through meaningful micro-interactions or simply being human?”

For customers who complain about their poor interactions, handle them with kid gloves. After all, those customers have valuable information about your organization’s process, and you absolutely want the customer to share with you what went wrong. Also try to understand how they worked their way around the roadblock (assuming they didn’t just hang up and log off and go looking for a competitor).

“Once the customer gets through whatever wasn’t working, how do they know how to continue?” asked Waters. “Are they kicked into a different area of the online experience? Do you contact center reps transfer them to someone who doesn’t understand their full story? Think through the parts of the journey that lead to more irritation.”

By handling your less-than-happy customers gently – which means apologizing in a meaningful way and maybe even offering a discount, free shipping or another perk – you can find the pitfalls and stumbling blocks that will likely snare other customers in the future. Focus your efforts on fixing the worst problem spots, and your customer loyalty will likely improve very rapidly.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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