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Let's Complain Together

MAY 1, 2014 4:21pm ET
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We are constantly striving to improve our service to our customers and our referral partners. This is a tough industry and it is hard to define good customer service when providing an extremely regulated, highly technical and complicated service.

So I am a student of service. I love high touch, high trust, big hug service! We are all clients − to our doctors and dentists, to our grocery stores and other suppliers; to anyone whom we pay for something in return. Service matters more to me than product does because a great product with bad delivery can be so disappointing; but a great customer service experience lives on no matter what.

Recently, some of us were lucky enough to be sent on an award trip to the Four Seasons in Palm Beach by our parent company. Needless to say, service is top notch at a Four Seasons. Here are a couple of great examples:

One of our loan officers, Sheira, was teasing one of the pool folks that it was their job to deliver the sun moments before a sudden shower drove her back to her room. Fifteen minutes later there was a knock at her door and she was presented with oranges sliced into sun shapes and lemon cookies with a note that said, "I told you, you could count on me to deliver the sun." It was signed Chris, assistant pool and beach manager.

How does an organization empower and encourage their team to be so customer centric and creative?

Another LO, Amy saw a bug in her room and called down to the desk, and of course they were up in her room to address the situation immediately. Later they sent a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine to her as an apology!

It does not take that much creativity to deliver a nice apology, just the desire to make your clients happy and comfortable!

I was disappointed when I came to my room from the pool at 3 pm and it was still not refreshed and our breakfast dishes were still there after I had called twice to get it done. Rather than complain on the spot, I waited until I received my post-stay survey via email and then I commented on how annoying this was to me. I am still waiting to have my bottle of wine and chocolates delivered…to my home?

When we are upset or concerned about service delivery we have to complain in real time not after the fact. If we leave our complaints until after the transaction is completed, we are not allowing our provider to correct the issue, and are ensuring a frustrating experience with limited resolutions for all involved.

In our last sales meeting I announced that we are going to ask our clients to complain more! How do we know if we are making our clients happy when we only ask them once the transaction is complete? We cannot correct, we cannot HUG, and we cannot adjust or fix a situation if we do not ask along the way if we are doing a good job. As consumers we are not giving our service providers an opportunity to please us or win back our trust if we do not complain. As service providers, we must also be willing to allow our clients to complain, and to ask them directly for feedback, both good and bad. So let's start complaining more and expecting more and better service – from our providers and ourselves.

Remember – "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten." − Benjamin Franklin

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