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I’m baffled by companies that don’t understand that it’s the process and not the end result that leaves either a good or bad impression with a customer.

I’ll use Delta Airlines as an example. I have a friend, we’ll call him John, that is a Diamond Medallion member of Delta’s loyalty program. Diamond is the very top rank within the Medallion program. In fact, John spends over $100,000 each year flying with Delta.

As a Diamond member, John has a dedicated customer service number that he can call for help. But on several occasions when John has called with a problem, the customer service rep tells him, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do.”

After 10 minutes of arguing, John inevitably asks for a supervisor and then after re-explaining the whole situation, the supervisor fixes the problem.

Does John get the end result that he wants? Yes.

But is John frustrated, irritated and left wanting to take his business to another airline? Yes.

Delta could allow customer service reps to just solve the problem (especially for its most valuable customers like John), which in turn makes John happy. But Delta doesn’t.

Delta instead chooses to make the process painful and annoying.

The end result is the same (John gets what he wants), so why not provide a positive customer service experience?

At this point, John is so frustrated that he repeatedly has the same experience that he animatedly tells a lot of people, which hurts the Delta brand.

Let me illustrate what should happen.

John has a problem – one of his flight legs is delayed making him miss a subsequent flight. So he calls customer service. The first person with whom he speaks listens to his concerns and then finds a new flight that meets John’s needs.

Moral of the story is…

When designing your customer service processes, empower your reps to solve problems. Give them authority and trust. Customer service is about the process, not the end result.

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