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Designing a customer experience that’s Beyond WOW

Myra Golden, Customer Experience Designer, author of Beyond Wow, and a noted expert on customer service, shared with the group her insights and techniques on the concept and delivery of outstanding customer services.

Difficult customers—yes, they exist
Ms. Golden opened by noting customers are more savvy now than ever before.  Although this sounds like a good thing, the net result is an increase in stress for consumer services professionals.  How much of an increase?  Well, according to Newsweek magazine, the stress level of consumer services professionals is comparable to that of air-traffic controllers and police officers.  In short, the role of consumer services now ranks as one of the 10 most stressful jobs in the U.S.

Golden shared stories and a new vocabulary* with the group.  Sometimes, she noted, difficult customers can be categorized as the consumer vigilante.  These consumers are determined to force corporations—via the consumer affairs professional—to give in to the consumer vigilante’s demands—reasonable or not.  This means the consumer affairs professional must develop a response plan.

OK, what is the solution?
Golden uses the concept of verbal Aikido—a response plan that stresses non-resistance, harmony and assertiveness.   She encourages customer service professionals to recognize each spends more than 50 percent of their time on the dissatisfied customer—meaning the customer for whom nothing will be right (even if nothing was really wrong).  That focus creates a huge drain on resources for those customers who have a solvable issue.  The dissatisfied customers, or consumer vigilantes, need to be recognized as such and placed in a strategic “customer recovery plan.” The plan identifies those customers who really need to be fired and gives customer service professionals the skills and authority to do just that.

About the plan
A customer-recovery plan empowers consumer affairs professionals to understand how to create calm; how to work with customers; how to reduce complaints; and how to create a positive conversation. This is done by:
•    Understanding the issue is not always the issue—many consumers will accept a mistake, but will not accept if the mistake is not quickly and fairly handled.   Therefore, to determine how best to handle a complaint, consumer affairs professionals are encouraged to:

•    Strategically calm the consumer by:

Golden notes this return to the rational as a “magic wand” that can be invoked by asking three relevant, closed-ended, questions, back-to-back.  Why?  Well, the relevant, non-repetitive, and genuinely necessary questions will force angry consumers to shift focus from emotional to factual information.  In forcing this shift, consumer services professionals can lead the consumer toward a solution.  For the insurance industry, suitable questions include:
•    The first thing I need from you is….
•    In case we are disconnected, what is your number?
•    Name of your insurance company is…
•    What is your claim number?
•    Can you give me the exact date of occurrence?

Apply the skill
The consumer professionals attending were challenged to adopt, adapt, and apply the concepts reviewed to the insurance industry (whether regulator or carrier).  As a group, two strong ideas were generated to enable consumer affairs professionals to calm down the attack.  These included:

Finally, all participants were encouraged to identify activities to commit to start doing, stop doing, and will continue to do.  Golden noted this written commitment with all aspects of our lives would help empower change for the better—at work, home or play.

*In addition to the consumer vigilante, the 2014 Exchange was peppered with new words including OpperAction (see article on Member Showcase, Complaints:  Providing Opportunities for Change) and voluntold (see Case Studies article).

PRESENTATION
(Please login to access this link) [1] to view Golden’s presentation

CONTACT INFO
Myra Golden
Customer Experience Designer
Myra Golden Seminars LLC
809 S. Aster Ave.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
918.398.9368
myra@myragolden.com [2]
www.myragolden.com [3]