Sunday, November 15, 2009

Turn a Customer Service Frown Upside Down - Part Two


When last we spoke, we talked about how some proactive customer focused strategies can talk irate customers "off the ledge" so to speak.  I mentioned the JetBlue winter storm debacle as well as encouraged everyone to see the now famous apology video on YouTube.  If you can believe it, I've just watched it again!

I also covered the first part of the LESTER approach (Learning, Echoing and Sympathizing) to customer winback that I picked up from this very interesting article.  And yes, if you're wondering, I read that again, too!  It never hurts to have a refresher.

This next post covers the second half of LESTER as well as point out a way to ensure that all of your winback efforts are not for naught.  Ready?  Well then please buckle those seatbelts, return your seats to the upright position and stow your tray tables in preparation for takeoff.

By now, I'm assuming you've read the article as I have and have absorbed the first three letters of LESTER.  Let's examine the rest:

Thank: If you listened closely, you will know that David Neeleman doesn't thank the customer until the very end of the video.  The entire apology, however, is essentially about how he doesn't take their business for granted and that he is aware that they need to make serious changes in order to make what happened an "aberration" as opposed to routine.  His tone, his time bound promise (7 days) and a reference to penalties if they don't hit  targets shows some understanding that consumers have choices and they can choose to no longer do business with JetBlue.  

Evaluate: This is about absorbing what went wrong and making it right.  In the video, he very directly says that he had two options: ignore what happened or evaluate (his words) how they can be a more efficient and better company.  As he goes through the Customer Bill of Rights, he explains how each element is based on the major aspects of what went wrong (e.g., the employee ID tags were in response to poor staffing and access at the airports, etc.).   

Respond: This last step is demonstrating to your customer that you've heard the issue, assumed responsibility for it and are ready to implement the necessary changes to be a better partner/provider of goods and services to customers.  The entire apology video is essentially JetBlue's response with the icing on the cake starting at the 2:19 mark and continuing through to the end.  These last 32 seconds are its commitment to turn things around in order to earn customer confidence and trust - two things they are taking great pains to show they do not take lightly nor for granted.

Great stuff?  Absolutely!  Can anybody pull that off?  Absolutely!  Assuming, of course, they have the skill and, more importantly, will to do so.  How do we ensure success?  TEA is what I would add onto the fabulous LESTER:

Touchpoint: This is essentially asking "How am I doing?" of your customer.  After a commitment is made to make changes for the greater good, some sort of measurement would be helpful.  My view would be to let the changes steep a bit and then revisit with the customer at a predetermined time based on how you have your business metrics set up.  Some models require more frequent touchpoints than others and it may make sense to have some other algorithms drive when and how you address these customers.

Evaluate (Again): There is no harm in seeing how your remedies play out in the real world.  Review your committed response and determine if what you promised has solved the issue.  If it's great news, congratulations!  However, this might be an opportunity to uncover more nuances so you can have a more refined approach going forward.  Whatever comes out of this, even if it's unexpected, is always good information for you.

Adjust: If you've heard good news from the first two steps, that's great.  The thing to do at this point is to continue to socialize and evangelize this new approach throughout your organization from the top down.  It is so important to reinforce how valuable the customer is and your commitment to making things right.  If you've identified some areas for improvement, make those changes immediately and take a more aggressive approach. It's true you've a bit of homework to do but as long as there is a supportive environment and a team based approach, it will be possible for you to earn customer trust, confidence and business.

What are your thoughts?  How has your organization approached righting wrongs and its commitments to do better by its customers?  It would be great to have your real life experiences to enrich mine.  Please feel free to contact me.  I would love to hear from you.

Until Next Time,


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