Sometimes our complaint handling is more important than the original problem. Let me explain.
Most people that are in the Process Improvement or Continuous Improvement world tend to ignore the qualitative aspects of the customer’s experience. Yes, I put myself in this category also. But, little do we realize how critically important it is in meeting and exceeding the needs of our customers.
Let me illustrate.
Let’s take a fictitious process. Suppose you had been waiting for your flight, but then it was cancelled. Unfortunately, this situation is fairly common and I’d venture to say that while it creates a good measure of negative feelings, most of us have had flights cancelled on us. In fact, we’ve somewhat come to expect it.
I’d argue that if a flight was cancelled on us, we would react with “Man, this sucks, but I’ve come to expect this from the airlines”. Furthermore, if we were invited to take a customer satisfaction survey immediately after the flight cancellation, some of us might even give the airlines decent ratings, understanding that cancelling flights are sometimes a necessary evil in the airline business.
In sum, we might articulate our feelings the following way:
- I was disappointed that my flight was cancelled.
This makes sense and is reasonable.
How The Event Was Handled
Now, let’s take the same situation. Our flight was cancelled. But, let’s suppose the cancellation happened and the way it was communicated was haphazard and that the customers (that’s us) were treated in an inconsiderate way. Let’s further suppose that we, the customers, were made out to feel as if we were a burden on the airline. Maybe, the flight attendant at the gate called on the loud speaker “Attention, your flight is cancelled. Oh, quit all the whining. Cancellations happen, get over it”.
Given this situation and if we were given a customer satisfaction survey to complete, our feelings might be summed up in the following way:
- I was disappointed with the way the Airline handled the cancellation
Do you see the difference?
Okay, let me bring this home now. I don’t mean to be your psychology tutor, but this is important.
Emotions have many dimensions. It’s not as cut and dry as “my flight was cancelled”, but emotions are also triggered by qualitative aspects of experience. In our case, how the flight cancellation was handled.
With this worldview, can you reflect on your work and areas of responsibilities and see an application of the principles I discuss?
Let me know in the comments.