If you have employees, chances are good that the ones you pay the least are the ones with the most direct access to your customers. It’s the nature of business today that relegates most “Customer Service” duties to the bottom rung on the corporate ladder. That’s not a problem, so long as those employees have the authority to make the customer happy.
If a customer calls with a complaint, do your front line Customer Service people have the authority to refund their money? Probably. But is that smart? I’d argue that refunding a customer’s money should be a task that only the higher-ups should do. Here’s why:
Let’s say I bought a pair of shoes from XYZ Corp and the lining came apart the first time I wore them. I call the company to demand a refund, and the CSR refunds my money. Bad move, XYZ Corp. Terrible move. Sure, I got my money back, but I’m still peeved. I still don’t have a decent pair of shoes, and I’ve wasted a bunch of time. I’m not a satisfied customer at this point, and I will always think of XYZ Corp as a company that sells defective shoes. I will probably never buy from them again. I certainly won’t go out of my way to recommend them to my friends. So how could we improve that scenario?
Here’s a far better scenario, from the perspective of the customer and the company as well. When I call to demand a refund, the CSR says this, “I’ll be happy to provide your refund, Mrs. Carlson, but I may have a better solution for you. If you will allow us to replace the shoes for free, with another pair (same style or different – your choice), I can give you a $10 credit toward your next purchase, or a $10 credit toward a higher priced pair, if that’s your choice, and I’ll throw in a pair of our best socks for your trouble.”
If a CSR offered that to me, I’d jump all over it. The company would have a sale instead of a refund, and it would have cost them practically nothing. That $8 pair of socks only cost the company about $2, and the $10 is just a discount on this pair – or a future pair. And I would have a happy story about XYZ Corp to share with my friends on Facebook that evening. Every time I wore those free socks, I’d remember the interaction, and I’d be a loyal customer instead of a former customer.
This scenario only works if the CRS has the authority to make me that deal. In this country, we have our priorities flipped. We allow our lowliest employees to tell a customer no. But it takes a manager to tell a customer yes. It should be the other way around.