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Have You Disarmed Your Customers?

Chip Bell recently wrote “Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to Do About It.” In it he describes just how lethal poor customer service can be in a digital age.

I’ve followed Chip Bell’s books on customer service for
many years now. I always love the quick
and powerful stories he shares. They provide timely cases for use
with my clients.

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He recently wrote Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to Do About It. In it he describes just how lethal poor customer service can be in a
digital age.

One of his stories is of blogger Heather Armstrong. After
receiving what she felt was very poor customer service from Maytag, she wrote a
two-word recommendation to her more than 1 million Twitter followers –“Boycott
Maytag.” The next day she got call from one of the Maytag executives and her
problem was solved. But not before the
brand took a hit.

I looked up the story after reading it in Bell’s book and
found there was a healthy debate as to whether or not Armstrong’s action was
responsible. People came down on both sides of the issue. However, something
there was no debate about was that customers have more power than ever.

Bell and his co-author, John Paterson, offer many
considerations for disarming your customers and ensuring better service in
digital age. Below are 3 questions I found to be particularly useful. If you
can’t answer yes to these questions, you’re doing a poor job of disarming your
customers.

  1. Does
    your self-service channel have a backdoor exit so customers can reach a live
    person?
  2. Are
    your processes designed with and for the customer … not, just for the benefit of
    the organization?
  3. Is
    your service recovery done effectively and empathetically enough that it spawns
    a positive story your customers can’t wait to tell? Healing a broken
    relationship is just as important as fixing the customer’s problem.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world,
they might tell six friends. If you make
customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” –Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, Amazon.com

Doug Sundheim is an executive coach & organizational consultant focusing on leadership and strategy execution. His book on smart risk-taking is due out next year. You can find him at clarityconsulting.com and follow him on twitter @DougSundheim.