Yesterday, I was in a meeting (assisting a start-up build a concierge service) and the topic of CRM vendors came up as we are now going through the process of selecting what platform we want to use. The name of a certain vendor came up and I had an immediate negative reaction which my partners pointed out. One of the other partners started listing out the positives of the platform offerings to which I couldn’t argue, but at the end I couldn’t shake the bad feeling and I said to the team, “I had a bad experience with that company a number of years ago. It left such a bad impression I really don’t want to do business with them again.” There it was, in that instance, this company which most likely has new people, new products and technology and has worked very hard to build and evolve their business, was cast out of the potential sale for something that happened long ago.
After I came home and was winding down the night, I asked myself, “Why do I have such a negative emotional response to that company and am I missing something by not looking at them?” It comes down to the fact that at critical time, when I needed them to deliver they failed. More importantly, they didn’t even try to succeed because it was more financially beneficial at the time to fail. As I see it, they put their temporary profits over their integrity and commitments. When I needed them, they decided I wasn’t worth it and I won’t ever forgive them for it.
As leaders in the service industry, we are accountable when it comes to creating policies and processes that impact our customers when things don’t go as planned. Customers don’t expect you to be perfect but how you react when things go wrong says more about the culture and ethos of the business than any mission statement ever could.
Do your recovery processes align to your brand commitments? How many of your policies were created in a vacuum, looking only at the cost benefit of the immediate transaction instead of the lifetime spend of the customer impacted? I think of a comment I heard after asking that question once.. “We don’t want to give away the store” was the answer. A myopic thought process at a minimum but certainly not looking at the lifetime impact of that negative experience. Another way to look at these policies is to break them into the impact to the customer when they go wrong. Not every problem is created equal in the customer’s eyes, but many of our policies are focused on consistency instead of what is equitable. Those times when it matters most to a customer is when that lasting impression is created. This is when you need to understand that the recovery effort should match the customer impact because good or bad, that impression is being created. So as you start another day, here is are a few questions to ponder. Have you looked at your customer recovery processes and policies and measured their impact on the customer over time? Do they reflect your companies brand promise? Are you creating brand detractors by being focused on the moment instead of the lifetime?