New marketing demystified for Indian SMEs

How not to do “customer satisfaction” calls

I have had two recent calls from service providers; both on the phone checking for how satisfied I am with their service. As it happened, I was unhappy with both but only one of them had an obvious reason to suspect it.

One of them was a pest control company. Here’s what they did right:

The caller was polite, listened and did not try to strait-jacket my answers in a “scale of 0 to 10, where would you rate us” kind of crap. He was patient, interjected a few times for the sake of seeking clarifications and promised that my feedback will be taken seriously and will go to “senior management” of the company.

And what did he do wrong?

No action! No one ever got back; so much so, that when the lady from the local office called up a couple of months later, she, poor-soul, got a mouthful from me. She had to listen to all the feedback, all over again and it was really not her fault. No one had ever passed on any feedback to her.

So, when you are doing a customer satisfaction survey: if you are the survey designer, make sure that you expect that the customer voice may need to trigger action. I really think these guys missed a huge opportunity. Imagine, if I received a call from the company the next day? Imagine if they offered to give me a service call free/ or, even a token discount on my next renewal? Would I not spread the story about this responsive company?

They obviously do not have a CRM system! Enough said.

The second case was a consumer durable major; who called up to check up on my recent service experience with them. Considering that it had taken them 17 days of follow-up to fix my appliance, I was not really happy. But, if anything, after this call, I am even unhappier. Why?

No empathy: He was obviously reading from a ready questionnaire and was not ready for a detailed feedback. He did not have the case history before calling. No CRM 🙂

Bad manners: Frequent interruptions while I am talking and no attempt to understand the customer experience beyond the “in-process metrics” (did you get a call in 1 hour, did someone affix a sticker on your appliance, did someone visit you in 24 hours… by the way, answers to all those questions were no, no and no!). Rigid questionnaire adherence. How does the company capture customer voice that says that their service centre refused to make any forecast about when the parts will be available or that their managers and supervisors never pick up their phones?

But, the most important failure: I never got the feeling that what mattered to me (having my appliance up and running) mattered to the company. Their focus was on in-process metrics; they were not willing to consider if those in-process metrics were even related to desired outcomes.

No learning: I never got the feeling that the company is learning from this. The parting shot from the telecaller was, “Sir, from now on, you will be attended to within 24 hours”. So, the fact that they did not have parts in stock (had to be imported); they have unresponsive service people etc will not be addressed.

No CRM, again? I will be surprised; but, who knows? CRM is as much about the process and tools as about the mindset. If the design brief of the software asked for only binary data logging and no “subjective feedback”, the tele-callers will continue to struggle to capture customer voice. And, that would indeed be a pity.


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