Smart Companies Listen and Respond to Customers

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Five Steps for Dealing with Customer Issues

Basically, any comment or request from a customer or an employee should be graciously acknowledged, immediately if possible, and accompanied by an action.

That whole process requires dedicated resources and a commitment of subject matter experts so that the actions are conclusive. A disgruntled customer will usually stop complaining if the complaint is acknowledged and addressed.

I have seen it work again and again.

Today it’s like “taking the ‘social media stick’ away” and it can result in a renewed loyalty if the customer feels he has truly been heard. We know the value of financial and marketplace analyses of our businesses and competitor reviews.

Those analytics are important but alone they will not achieve an enhanced brand strategy.

In responding to employees and customers as your two most important stakeholders, consider:

1.   Using a response team made up of a collection of subject matter experts representing various aspects of your business (i.e., sales, marketing, finance, HR).

This team can be tasked with regularly reviewing concerns and agreeing on the best action.

2.   Deploying a response matrix so that if a very serious complaint or crisis occurs such as injury from a product there is an active and quick response process.

The response team can be tasked with developing this matrix.

3.   24/7 monitoring of all of your customer contact points whether online, via call center or in person.

This will help you deploy the response matrix as quickly as possible and avoid the “piling on” that can occur when a comment in social media is left unattended or even worse, blocked.

4.   Turn complaints into suggestions by ensuring that the complaints are used to develop employee and customer service improvements and in your products themselves.

This is validation of listening.

5.   Last but not least, responses need to echo advertising and PR.

Said differently, don’'t isolate your advertising agency or your team responsible for advertising and PR.

They are making claims about your products and services that will be viewed more sincerely if other responses are consistent.

Related articles:

Developing A Relevant Brand Strategy

Five Tips for Creating Motivated Employees

Social Media Prep

Rethinking Customer Engagement

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About the author

Andrea Cotter

Andrea Cotter, President and Founder, ACotter Global Brands. Andrea coaches executives and teams helping them to put in place strategies and communications that will take them to the next level.  She is also an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Communication at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies. 
During a 30-year career at IBM Corporation, Andrea Cotter held many integrated marketing and communications roles for various IBM products and services and executive roles as Global Director of Linux and of Healthcare and Life Science Marketing.  At UPMC in Pittsburgh, PA, Andrea was SVP of Communications, responsible for enterprise-wide brand marketing, advertising, clinical marketing and public relations.   Most recently Andrea served as temporary President of a brand consultancy in New York, New York.