The risk you face from an unhappy customer is obvious: that she’ll take her business elsewhere. But there’s also an enticing opportunity. TARP Worldwide, a research firm specializing in “the customer experience,” did a study showing that if you resolve a customer’s complaint satisfactorily, she’ll be 30% more loyal than a customer who hasn’t had a problem.
Cool. But how can you capitalize on the chance to turn complainants into fans? Customer-service superstars such as West- Jet Airlines, Nordstrom and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts give frontline staff the latitude to do what’s needed to solve client problems. They cite such employee empowerment as a key contributor to their sustained success.
Customers love it when a frontline worker takes the initiative to solve a problem rather than hiding behind company policy or making the client wait until a manager is available to step in. And customer-facing staff thrive on the respect an employer shows by entrusting them to do the right thing for the customer and the company.
True, an employee might invest too much in solving a problem. But weigh that against the future revenue stream from your newly loyal customer—and the lost business if you leave her disgruntled and she slags your firm to her friends.
Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharp says that his company’s customer service is founded on the Golden Rule: that you should always treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. The trick is to find people for whom that comes naturally. Your hiring process needs to spot people with the sound judgment and superior listening skills required to devise apt solutions—and who get a big kick out of putting a smile on a customer’s face.