Time to "Sweeaten" the Sour Aftertaste

Yesterday I shared my recent experience with a local restaurant, and it ended with a thought : communicate bad news sooner and save time, money, and relationships. But how does it actually translate to minutes and seconds?

Running the Numbers

I've sampled two recent customer support tickets and two recent customer reviews. Since we time-stamp stage changes in all of our support tickets in Salesforce, I am able to run time to resolve performance reports on tickets. I'll use a made-up example to illustrate my point:

Betty ordered a case of jars. But turns out the item was temporary out of stock when the order processed, and replenishment inventory is due to arrive in 3 days. The team now have two options:

  1. Notify the custom right away: This entails an email or a phone call with an apology, notifying the customer of the stock issue and replenishment date, and give the customer two options - a) Cancel the Order or b) wait for the jars to arrive. Either option isn't the perfect one because we fail to meet shipping expectations. The team might need to offer some type of service coupon in hopes of retaining the customer. Total time spent : 15 minutes.
     
  2. Let the order sit and ship when ready: This, as bad as it sounds, is what I see too many eCommerce business do these days. "it's just 3 days, if the customer call to ask for update we'll just upgrade their shipping to compensate for the time...". Unfortunately by the time the customer pick up the phone, their expectations are already broken. Average call time for engaging with a indifferent customers are generally twice as long as scenario 1, which means the team member will have to be engaged with that customer longer, reducing their overall effectiveness with other customers who might need help. Further, we risk poor customer reviews and lost sales.

Given the time spent for both scenario it is easy to pick which one to go for, but it also raises a follow-up question : How should I empower the team to respond to customer service issues? How deep should the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) be? Should I have standard scripts that team member recite based on questions asked, or do I set them loose based on overall company culture? Let's talk about that next.

Your Customer Service Folks Are You Brand's "Evangelists"

A "Sour Taste" That Lasts