In accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures, filmmaker Martin Scorsese quoted Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That got me thinking…
Maybe that’s why your customers keep bringing up issues that you think are long resolved—the need for proactive support, responsive customer service reps, or trained technical staff. To you, it’s history. To your customer, it’s not even past. Your company’s “old” performance failure could still be bothering them—chipping away at their confidence and having them wonder if you can meet their company’s needs in the future.
So, how do you know if something is still bothering your customers? How do you help your customers move from “you didn’t fix this fast enough” to “I know I can rely on you”?
The answer: You have a different kind of conversation — one which allows you to dig deeper, to listen not just to the result, but the cause; to not just the words, but the emotions. Performance failures are painful — and memorable—because they cost customers something. When your company’s delivery is late or customer service is unavailable, it can result in worry, overtime, increased costs, and a spike in blood pressure for your customers.
Like in any relationship, people aren’t really ready to move on until you “get it.” Find out not only what went wrong, but why it went wrong. Learn how the error impacted them—personally. Find out how your solution was received. (What worked about it and what didn’t?) Is there work that you still need to do?
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Which brings to mind something else Scorsese once said:
“There’s no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.”
Rhonda Sunnarborg, Senior Consultant