Call Center

Customer Service Recovery

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Last week I experienced poor customer service and great customer service. Both happened the same day – from the same organization.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By choice I bank locally. My bank has a main office and two branches. For twelve years, I’ve always used just one branch. When I make a deposit, I prefer the lobby. This isn’t because I have an aversion to drive-through convenience, but because face-to-face is more personal. I want to know those who handle my money and – more importantly – I want them to know me.

When I needed to check on a transaction last week, I went online – or attempted to. My login was denied. Next I tried bank-by-phone. Invalid password. I then called the main office, where the records are kept.

Training Shortfall: Though the woman understood my request, she took a long time to find the information. Lengthy hold times were part of the process. Once accomplished, she was about to hang up when I stopped her. “I can’t log in to online banking or bank-by-phone.” I gave her the details. Once she realized I wished to resolve these issues, she put me on hold again.

It’s Your Fault: She returned, telling me what to do when I’ve forgotten my password. “I didn’t forget it,” I clarified; “it’s just not working.” She did some typing and conferred with her coworker, this time without putting me on hold. She was confused. She instructed me try again, and then informed me I was locked out because of too many failed login attempts. Gee, I was just doing what you told me.

“You Have To”: There was more conferring with her coworker. Then, her next words jarred me. “To reset your password, you have to fax in written authorization.” She couldn’t help me until I did. This was likely a protection I established, but how it was presented was disconcerting. “That is most disappointing,” I replied, and we ended the call.

This was not my first service issue of day, and I began silently grousing. I don’t have to do anything. It’ll be faster to cancel my accounts than to fax in my request. However, even though switching banks might have been emotionally satisfying, it was not practical.

Making It Right: I was still stewing when the phone rang. It was the branch manager; we’re on a first-name basis. She apologized for her coworker’s miscommunication. For security purposes, the bank recently required every customer to change their passwords; we would be locked out until we did. Apparently, the person I talked to had been hurriedly brought in to address the deluge of resulting phone calls.

In the time it took to explain this, the manager had reset my passwords and soon I could log in. We would deal with the paperwork later.

The manager’s exemplary response overcame the disappointing shortcomings of her coworker. It was a stellar example of customer service recovery.

Read more in Peter’s Sticky Series books: Sticky Leadership and Management, Sticky Sales and Marketing, and Sticky Customer Service featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry. Read his latest book, Healthcare Call Center Essentials.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

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