Well, I for one sure as hell didn’t expect weeks of “snowmageddon”! Ok, I know this is New England but really, no one could have expected the pounding we’ve gotten. Because I was born and raised in Miami, I always hope for minimal snow and ice. Oh yes I can! Hope springs eternal.
Snowmageddon has done more than ruin a few Valentine’s Day dinners. Valentines Day is the granddaddy of big expectations – most of which are never realized and the snow contributed to dashed expectations all over New England. Now think about your customer's expectations of you and your business during this absolutley ludicrous winter!
So, what have you done during this shocking winter to manage your customer’s expectations as you’ve struggled to stay open, sell your products, make it to meetings on time and in general keep your business functioning?
A colleague of mine recently contacted me for advice on how to help her website client who was drowning in frustrated customers. Guess what business her client is in ----- the roofing business. Imagine being a highly professional, highly respected 30 year old roofing company that is suddenly getting negative reviews on the web from angry customers who expected the roofing company to call back immediately and shovel their roof the next day. Given that this company and others like it were receiving over 100 calls per day, there was no way they could respond to each request much less actually solve each request.
The lesson here is to "proactively manage your customer’s expectations”. My colleague understands this truth and hence the call to me. And now the solution for the roofing company:
Apologize that the number of requests demands that you develop a priority response system
Define the priority response system
customers in the last two years with damage
customers in the last two years that need only shoveling
customers who need shoveling
Define a response time
“We will reply to every inquiry we receive, but if we are not able to get back to you within 36 hours, you may wish to look elsewhere for help. We do not want you to delay receiving service if we are unable to meet your needs.”
And most importantly the above verbiage was quickly added to their website and all phone callers were directed to visit the website and share their needs in writing on the site. This allowed the client to explain the “snow operations” in detail and it kept phone lines free for the staff to make response calls.
One of my clients who is dedicated to customer service and who works very hard at managing customer expectations, proactively placed on their web site new storm opening and closing hours, alerts about shipping from UPS and FedX and with every phone order explained that shipping would be slower due to snow mounds the size of Kilimanjaro. They proactively managed customer’s expectations and are still doing so – warning about shipment delays due to each storm whether here or elsewhere in the country. They have also explained inventory shortages due to the dock workers strikes on the West Coast.
Your true customer service level is defined by the service you deliver during tough times, during disruptions and during crises. Not when life is slow and easy. Great service anticipates problems and plans for them in advance. So what are you going to do NOW to plan your future actions in times of distress? You can start by calling Catalytic Management.
Remember, “he who hesitates is lost”!
Need to develop a customer driven crisis response plan?
Call Catalytic Management today! Together we'll keep your customers happy despite mountains of snow, hurricane winds and swarms of locusts!