My name is Max Daniel and I am the new Business Development Manager at The Daniel Group.  Like many recent college graduates I would’ve been thrilled to be working anywhere.  But I get to work where I’ve wanted to for a long time, so of course, I am ecstatic.  I look forward to learning and growing with The Daniel Group.

Now I could tell you about my first weeks at work but I will spare you that because I keep running across something in the news that is fast becoming a customer service and public relations nightmare.

What I’m talking about is the latest issues with the Boeing-787 Dreamliner.

The first thing I noticed upon reading this article from Newsweek’s online site The Daily Beast was that there seems to be a lack of dialogue between the public and Boeing on exactly what is going on.   Although today Boeing has come out with a statement saying they will be fixing all the issues, they were very non-specific and gave no real timetable for the completion of these fixes.

According to The Daily Beast the issue in question involves a lithium-ion battery that powers a handful of things on the plane, which Boeing was the first airliner to use regardless of previous overheating problems in, for example, your laptop or electric cars.  These batteries are prone to “burn-out,” leading to fires and have done so in multiple Boeing -787’s causing two separate Japanese airlines to ground their fleets and more airlines are sure to ground their 787’s as well.

What can we learn from this situation, from a customer service/experience perspective?

A lot. But this situation is gigantic so, for my sake, let’s scale it down a bit. Here are some tips to help deal with a customer who has just had a bad experience with your product.

First, the customer will not be happy. Faulty, very expensive equipment is never fun to deal with.  Start with open dialogue about the problem and be honest. Give the real answer.  But know that this is most likely going to make the customer more upset.  Be prepared to try and calm them. Think of it as building trust and an honest answer, no matter how painful, will be taken into account.  On average it takes 12 good customer service experiences to make up for one bad one.  So consider this the first and keep the lines of communication open to help in any way possible over an extended period.

Second, educate your staff.  Everything is a factor and training on how to react to many situations as well as product knowledge will be put to the test.  By keeping a knowledgeable staff it allows for them to handle most situations without direct managerial assistance and makes them more confident.  Nothing can replace a well-trained employee and all that training will be worth its weight in gold when these situations arise.

Third, remember that losing a customer is expensive.  It costs five times more to gain a new customer than it does to maintain the ones you already have.  So try your hardest to keep them around.  Also by turning a negative situation into a positive one you are more likely to create a loyal customer and not just a satisfied one.

Finally, react with a personal touch.  This is optional but based on companies like Zappos.com and Trader Joe’s, who are famous for unique customer service responses, customers really appreciate a little creativity and personalized customer care especially when the situation may not be the most pleasant.  For example, a hand written note which lets the customer know you are personally working for them.

Overall, you must react quickly.  The customer wants to be informed and he wanted to be informed yesterday.  Jumping on a situation early can stop it from getting out of hand.

Max Daniel
Business Development

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