Queries and complaints

• Ensure individual queries and complaints are handled and progressed by the “first contact” customer representative to provide consistency of service.

• Give staff authority as well as ownership. Call centre staff, for example, can offer small compensatory payments where customers have a minor but legitimate complaint. While initially employees will make mistakes, after training, their responsibility and extended capability will become the norm.

• Incorporate service deliverables into managers’ pay structures. This helps focus on customer service issues and ensures the whole organisation is driven by the same standards.

• Do not expect everyone to adapt readily to change. Many of our customer service staff who were used to handling written responses were initially uncomfortable in a call centre role.

• Be proactive. We use customer service data to influence new products, eliminating obvious glitches before launch and aiding product evolution.

• Pick up an issue only once. Then deal with it and pass it on with clear accountabilities for order and delivery.

• Keep an open mind. Not all ideas work out as intended and you need to be ready to move on and find an alternative.

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