Apologies (Part 2) – The Reason

Our group does a lot of Customer Satisfaction Research. It’s a great way of getting inside the head of your customers to figure out what satisfies them and what they expect when they call. Customers can differ widely from company to company – from market to market. There are, however, some “key drivers” of customer satisfaction that consistently show up:

  1. One-call resolution
  2. Courtesy & friendliness

Translation: “I want you to fix my problem and I want to know you care.”

I often find the mentality in customer service is to simply solve problems. AC and Michael Wagner both had great comments to Part 1 of this series. Both of them wrote about customers wanting, needing, and responding to the “human touch.” I heartily agree. One call resolution without the courtesy and friendliness does not completely satisfy. Shep Hyken says there are two types of CSRs, those who fix problems and those who take care of customers. Not bad.

My experience is that apologies, when properly delivered, are the most powerful and efficient way to communicate to the customer you care that:

  • she’s been inconvenienced
  • his order didn’t arrive
  • he’s so upset
  • she’s been on hold for ten minutes

BUT…Apologies and resolution go together. They are peanut butter and chocolate, they are vanilla ice cream and hot fudge, they are nachos and cheese (gosh, do you think I’m hungry?).

If you apologize and don’t resolve the problem then you’ll likely hear “I don’t want your apology – I want my problem fixed!” Yet, if you resolve the problem and don’t apologize, the customer walks away saying “Yes, they fixed the problem…but they didn’t really care about what they put me through!”

Customers want to have it both ways. Are you willing to deliver?

Next post: Apologies (Part 3) – The Delivery

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