Maximizing Customer Satisfaction: Lecture 4

What do you do with negative feedback?

Negative feedback is part of being in business. Expect it. Accept it. And put a process in place so you can do something about it.

Here are the four steps you must take when you get negative feedback:

  • Analyze the root cause. Figure out why the customer left negative feedback. Don’t quit on this step - keep asking until you figure out the core reason.
  • Assess whether the customer was justified. The customer is not always right! If you’re clearly selling a Windows laptop and your customer complains that they didn’t get a Mac, that’s truly not your problem.
  • Act. If the customer’s complaint is valid, do something about it. First, take responsibility for the problem and for fixing it. And then fix it.
  • Make sure it doesn’t happen again. Ask how you can do the right and fair thing by your customers to prevent the same issue in the future.

Even if the customer wasn’t justified, be respectful of their state of mind. Keep calm and keep them calm.

I want you to know - this is a long game. Your team will always be learning from their mistakes and working on improving. That’s how you grow and build a company that is loved by its customers.

How to set customer support team goals that work

Now you’re all set to gather and act on customer feedback. But I’m begging you, don’t make the biggest mistake I see companies making with their customer support:

Measuring how well your team is doing by how many positive ratings you’re getting.

I know, it sounds like a no brainer. The more positive ratings the better, right?

Not exactly.

Turns out setting customer support team goals is trickier than you’d expect.

You could focus on improving ratings. But then the problem is, if you focus too hard on that your team gets caught up on making every response too perfect. Meantime, other customers are still waiting for an answer, and they’re not getting happier. Oh, and your response times are increasing.

You could focus on minimizing response times. Except then your team is rushing to respond faster without fully understanding the customer’s problem. And now you’ll have unhappy customers asking themselves “did they even READ my email?” Now quality of support is dropping.

The real problem here is a little thing known as Goodhart’s law: “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

Let me explain.

It’s human nature to try and game the system if you know you’re being measured against a specific metric. Think back to when you were a teenager and your mom told you to clean your room. Did you carefully polish and sweep every inch of it? No! You shoved as much as you could in your closet and under your bed so it looked tidy.

What does this have to do with your support team? It’s simple. If you measure your success in quick support times, they’ll do everything they can to respond faster, even if it means not reading the question properly. This isn’t out of malice - it’s out of wanting to meet targets.

And if you measure your success in customer happiness? Your team will focus on meeting that at all costs, even if it means you end up with a support ticket line stretching from NYC to Las Vegas.

The secret is to set BOTH goals, because you want both outcomes, don’t you? You want your customers to be happy with their support. And you want to achieve that goal in the shortest time possible without compromising on their happiness.

So, focus on both with your team. Emphasize customer happiness first, and then response times as a close second. Now your team is focused on delivering the whole package instead of meeting specific targets. Encourage them to use good judgment to put in extra effort when needed to make the customer happy, while still being conscious of response times.

Now you’ve got the right balance and your team understands that both elements matter.

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