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Bad practices: mind the little details

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Service quality is one of the major antecedents of customer satisfaction. Sometimes it may be impacted by little details which can ruin all your efforts.

Vanden Borre, which I mentioned in an earlier post, has done a major mistake when they handled my complain.

In the last written communication I received from them to close my case (in my favor), they wrote “we grant you the benefit of doubt”.

This is just a major mistake when writing to a customer to resolve his or her complaint. If you give someone the benefit of the doubt it means that you doubt that he or she is honest and that the complaint is justified.

My take:

Rather than discussing whether or not a complaint can be accepted, firms should realize that handling those complaints and trying to refuse comes at a cost. I’m not even mentioning retaliation risks here but merely dealing with the internal treatment costs. Stop discussing and give an immediate  refund. It will foster your professionalism in the eyes of the customer and you will slash your internal costs which will balance the cost of the refund. Of course you need to have sufficient knowledge of the cost of your internal activities (which means using ABC-costing) and monitor them. What about trying this in 2011?

Keep in mind what Hocutt et al. wrote in their paper “The art of service recovery : fact or fiction?” :

effective service recovery results in higher levels of satisfaction, and a lower tendency to express negative word-of-mouth, than if there had been no service failure. When service recovery involves high redress, responsiveness and empathy/courtesy – the best possible combination – customers are much more satisfied than when no service failure occurs. But there is no significant difference in negative word-of-mouth intentions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that consumers do not share word-ofmouth when the service experience meets their expectations – which represents the authors’ “no failure” condition

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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