It’s interesting how a topic of conversation sort of ripples through the blogosphere. Lately, it seems I’ve read several posts about listening to customers and criticism as strategic opportunities for improvement. Steve Browne and Jam Mayer had different takes on this principle. It’s easy to ignore customer complaints and criticism or to dismiss it as a few angry crackpots.
But maybe there’s gold in them thar piles of problems.
A few years ago we did an ongoing Service Quality Assessment for a satellite dish provider. We listened to a valid sample of phone calls each month and then delivered regular reports on both CSR service skills as well as policy/procedure related issues. Over the course of a few months we noticed a strange increase in the number of customers who were calling to say, “I sent my check today. I just wanted you to know it’s in the mail.” We reported this trend and asked our client “Why do your customers feel compelled to proactively call you and tell you they are sending their payments?” It didn’t make sense.
The client did some digging and found out that their lock-box provider had been sitting on checks and not processing them. Customers’ payments weren’t being processed on time and, as a result, their programming was cut off. Once this happened, customers didn’t trust the company to process their payments on time and were afraid of having their programming cut off again, so they began calling when they put the check in the mail.
As a result, the client switched the lock-box providers and within months they shaved thousands of calls per month from their queue not to mention the money it was costing them to switch programming on and off and the intangible cost of customer ire. Not bad.
Are you listening?