Is Resolving the Customer’s Issue Good Enough, or Can We Do Better?
As an early-morning runner with a dog, one of the most essential pieces of equipment to ensure success is my headlamp. As a clumsy human trying to control a dog that loves to lunge after just about any moving non-human thing, it has prevented numerous scrapes and bruises — or worse.
Over the course of this winter, my favorite headlamp started randomly flickering back and forth from dim to bright. It slowly progressed to where it finally behaved that way without ceasing. Needless to say, it became an annoying distraction during those otherwise peaceful runs.
Hoping that the lamp was covered by warranty I filled out a request on the manufacturer’s website. I was greeted by an automated email stating that it might be several weeks before I heard anything.
True to their word, I finally heard something several weeks later — on April 16, 2023, to be exact. I received three emails in rapid succession and here’s the timeline for you.
- 7:55 AM – I received an email stating that a representative was reviewing my request.
- 7:57 AM – I received an email apologizing for the issue with my headlamp, stating that a new headlamp would be shipped to me. Furthermore, there was no need to return the defective one.
- 7:57 – I received an email stating that my issue has been resolved and it asked me to rate whether or not I was satisfied with my experience with the warranty department.
That was it. What a whirlwind of a 2-minute experience. Fast forward a bit and I have a new headlamp and can see in the dark again. So, what is there to complain about? Well, despite my delight in receiving a new headlamp, the whole experience left something to be desired.
As I’ve reflected on this experience of having my issue processed and case closed in two minutes, there are three things I would have done differently. Allow me to shed some light on those for you.
1. Validate my concerns
There are few things more comforting as a human being than to bring an issue or concern to another person and learn that I’m not alone. I’m not the only one going through that experience.
When I brought the issue of my broken headlamp to the manufacturer, they did offer empathy, apologizing for the issue. But what I craved was the knowledge that my concern was valid. Have other customers experienced this issue? Am I doing something wrong? Is this issue known and is there a fix? I didn’t necessarily need a replacement if the issue could be fixed.
Lesson: Sometimes customers need some validation. They need to know they aren’t crazy!
2. An understanding of what’s being done to correct the issue
I know I should be grateful to receive a new headlamp — and I am. But how do I know that the new one won’t have the exact same issue? How do I know if I can continue to trust this company to meet my lighting needs? I want to trust them so badly!
I’m reminded of a conversation with a customer following a service outage. I offered the customer a credit for the service interruption assuming they simply wanted compensation. He responded by saying, “Keep your money and tell me what you’re doing to ensure that your service is reliable. My business relies on you.”
Sure, there are customers out there that gripe and put on a show so they can get free stuff, but the majority turn to your company to solve a problem or meet a need. And they are more than happy to pay a fair price for a good product or service.
Lesson: For most customers, understanding the root cause and any actions taken to correct it for the long term is more desirable than compensation.
3. Wait until the customer says it’s resolved
The final thing I would have done differently in this experience is to check in with the customer to ensure that the replacement headlamp was received and worked correctly. Instead of closing my ticket immediately after shipping the replacement, the agent could have kept the case open to monitor the status of the shipment.
Once delivery was confirmed they could have been checked in, asking me to test the new headlamp to ensure that it worked correctly. Yes, they did give me the opportunity to write back and also asked for feedback via a customer satisfaction survey. Here’s what I wrote in my survey comment:
Thank you for replacing my headlamp. I greatly appreciate it. I would love to know if you have any further detail about the malfunction I was experiencing. Was this a common defect or a fluke? If a common one, has it been addressed?
To date, I have not received a response to this feedback. I’ll be sure to update this article if I receive a response.
Lesson: Stick with the customer and give them an opportunity to provide their thoughts, comments, and questions regarding the resolution. Solving the customer’s issue before they believe it’s solved is not unlike hanging up the telephone on them before the conversation is complete.
Putting it into perspective
Since this experience, I’ve wrestled with whether or not to write about it. Am I being too nitpicky? After all, I did get a brand-new headlamp with zero pushback. There’s a lot to be grateful for in this experience that far exceeds that of other companies.
But in the spirit of excellence, I as the customer keep coming back to my desire to do business with this company for the long term. I want to know that I can rely on my headlamp every morning for years to come. Without the assurance that the root cause of the issue was corrected, I can only hope that it was. Otherwise, I’ll likely consider another brand in the future.
As you read about this experience and think about your own experiences as a customer, what lessons stand out for you? Let’s hope that more companies see the light and understand that customers don’t just want you to fix their problem — they want to know that they can trust you long into the future.