The pissed-off-customer tsunami: the grudge factor
Anyone dealing with customers in a POMPI position should, first and foremost, be drilled to focus on the long-term relationship instead of the few euros, pounds or dollars the company may lose in a single transaction. A simple example from my own experience: a prominent department store refused to make a duplicate of a photograph that I wanted to use as a gift, despite my having proof that their processing had ruined the original negative. Result: for the price of one replacement photograph the store lost my total business for more than a year and I never placed photo orders there again (think: annual vacations, second child, several new pets, etc.). You do the math. I HAD been a loyal customer before that.
In my example, the attitude of the person handling my complaint exacerbated the situation. Blind to the big picture, she was clearly an inappropriate choice for a public-service position. Most people can surely think of at least one example of a company that they abandoned or at least treated more negatively after they felt cheated, handled with suspicion, or were just not heard. If you were a loyal customer, the potential losses are huge.
Like it or not, your company needs to focus on keeping the customer happy and loyal. An angry customer WILL hold a grudge. My example, from many years ago, was relatively simple and included the two traditional negative responses:
o losing the customer’s business
o bad publicity when the customer reports the incident to friends and family
With the internet, it comes as no surprise, your risks spread out like the flood waters of eastern Japan. Now that smart phones/tablets/laptops are added to the customer’s arsenal there is as significant risk of widespread negative feedback when they tell the whole world about how rudely they felt that they were treated without even having a cooling off period after the event!
Never before have the dangers been so great and they are likely to intensify as more and more consumers are taking matters into their own hands and rating establishments. So choose your personnel carefully and train them well to give the customer the benefit of the doubt and to never, ever, EVER underestimate them.
And a final tip: do not ignore the “point of most potential irritation” support staff!
Being the buffer between your company and increasingly demanding customers is a high-pressure job. Employers need to appreciate, encourage and invest in their POMPI staff. Signs of frustration will reflect badly on the company. Address this issue directly and with sensitivity by, for instance, listening carefully to your employees and, when necessary, investing in:
· extra staff support
· ways to help them let off steam
· methods to improve their emotional and physical health
These are small investments if one considers the big picture: you are supporting the staff that holds the key to the return a critically endangered species: the loyal customer.