Handling Customers Problems

Customers who know that their problems are being taken care of are more likely to be satisfied and loyal; they will be happier to deal with the organisation in the future. Associated with this is the ability to reassure them that help is on the way when the customer most needs it.

An effective strategic process is called incident management; the principles are to plan (identify areas where incidents could occur and explore ways to handle these situations); appoint one person as a single point of contact for the customer and he/she is trained in customer service skills; the role of this person is to take responsibility for the provision of appropriate services, including the effective coordination of support services and communications to the customer.

An incident management program has 2 main elements (infrastructure - delivering the service and personal skills - to provide the right level of customer care); skilled staff are essential to the effective delivery of the service, and training may be necessary.

The objectives of incident management are

"...- provide the highest level of quality responses and customer support throughout an incident

- to minimize inconvenience for the customer

- to ensure that incidents are resolved promptly within agreed time scales

- to ensure that support resources are employed effectively to maximize customer satisfaction..."

Lisa Carden et al, 2006

Common mistakes in incident management include

- failing to communicate with the customer during an incident

- not having a procedure to handle the situation before it gets out of hand

- not documenting the communications, responses times, actions taken, etc which will be the basis for a later debrief

. Common sense needs to prevail. For example, a relative of a deceased person rang Telstra (an Australian ITC firm) to close the deceased's account. The relative was informed by Telstra staff that they are only allowed to talk to the account holder!!!!!! This was a bit hard as the account holder was dead!!!!! Yet this phone call was transferred to 8 people in Telstra until someone took the initiative to break the prescribed process; others were fearful of the consequences of deviating from the usual process (Shannon Morrie, 2014)


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