Customer service complaint regulation may be coming to a business near you. According to an article in Forbes.com, “Stricter regulations will force businesses to focus on complaints management…With the new Australian regulation RG 271 having gone into effect on October 5, 2021, we predict that similar regulations will continue to expand around the globe — greatly impacting the way financial firms (and likely other industries eventually) provide customer care.”
Here’s a great way to avoid complying with new regulations: Make sure your customers trust, like, and respect you. If they do, the likelihood of complaints plummets.
Given this time-tested, simple prescription for customer service excellence, why do we have to resort to yet more regulations to keep businesses in line?
Because most businesses are out of line more often than not. Size and complexity of the operation, employee shortages, supply chain issues, the pandemic, and bad attitudes have combined to make the challenge of good customer service difficult, if not impossible, for many businesses.
These issues don’t excuse poor customer service. But, they do help explain it.
Then, there are large operations that manage to continue providing stellar customer service. Costco is one. Amazon is another. So, it can be done on a grand scale.
Why are Costco and Amazon doing such a great job, while so many fail? There are many potential answers. In the end, however, it starts and stops with a company culture that clearly articulates customer service commitments, then adheres to them.
It’s not any more complicated than this, although executing on a large scale obviously requires huge expenditures of time, money, and brainpower to make it happen. Costco and Amazon have committed to a culture of top-notch customer service consistently and reliably.
Hence, availability of ample and varied goods at Costco remains a pillar of their success while many around them falter with empty shelves and excuses for not delivering the goods.
In Amazon’s case, do you ever wonder why they continue to provide incredible turnaround on deliveries while everyone around them—USPS, FedEx, UPS, et al included—struggle?
Both these companies get it. They will continue to experience healthy growth and profits while competitors fall by the wayside.
Among their bedrock customer service policies that drive ever-larger business volume are:
1. Making it easy to return/get refunds. When a consumer knows they can get satisfaction if something doesn’t meet standards, they’re much more likely to buy it. In contrast, companies putting “dragons at the gate” to discourage returns are seeing their customers go to such companies as Costco and Amazon.
2. Going above and beyond stated policies. I’ve experienced this with both companies. I’m much more comfortable knowing that if/when extenuating circumstances exist, I may be able to get above-and-beyond consideration.
3. Friendliness. For the most part, both companies exude friendliness at every turn. At Costco, I notice that employees I see one year are still there the next. When employees feel respected and valued, longevity tends to follow. In turn, employee attitudes toward customers are generally much better. So, the friendliness is largely sincere—not a fake script they’ve been forced to adopt and recite.
As the world becomes increasingly scary and scarcity expands, people will gravitate to those they trust, like, and respect. Figure out how to do that, and your business can thrive while many others around you falter.
OK folks, it’s a clean slate. New Year. New ideas. New opportunities. Or perhaps it’s actually a return to old values, insights and practices that will do the most good. In customer service, bedrock practices based on historical wisdom always seem to work best. So, with the New Year, let’s look at some of those—and see how best they can apply in today’s hyper-tech, warp-speed information world.Mark Lusky aka The Happy Curmudgeon