John Goodman has managed more than 1,000 separate customer service studies, including the White House sponsored evaluation of complaint handling practices in government and business and studies of word of mouth and the bottom-line impact of consumer education sponsored by Coca-Cola USA. John’s new book, Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service takes John’s Customer Service expertise and puts it into a digital context.
Related Podcast and Transcription: What People Really Buy
Joe: We’ve met through ASQ that I find that it’s interesting because most quality people are very removed somewhat to the Customer Experience except dealing with the problem that gets fed back to them. I think Risk Management. Customer Experience is a huge risk, isn’t it? I mean you got to do it, right?
John Goodman: Oh, absolutely and, in fact, I recently had a consumer package goods company, where I had fed back some of the data and some quotes from customers and the quality guys in the manufacturing plant said, “Oh, we’ve never had this kind of information before.” I made the case to the head of Customer Insights and Customer Service that, basically, the plant people should be allowed to talk to the consumers directly to say, “What were you doing when this happened and how had you stored this product, etc.?” The General Counsel intervened and said, “We don’t ever want to have plant people talking to customers.
That would create too much potential risk.” Well, I’d counter it to your point and say, “What’s the risk of the plant people not understanding how the customer was using the product? If anything, there’s a huge risk there and, in fact, if you look at almost every major class action lawsuit and big government intervention, and there have been a number of, for instance in the auto industry and in the pharma industry recently, almost every one of those is due to the fact that problems weren’t handled very effectively and the problems were not paid attention to. It was literally with your problem handling and quality improvement process were pouring more gasoline on the fire rather than dealing with it effectively.” That actually raises the interesting issue that my company CCMC, every 2 years we do the National Wage Study. That’s a cross-section survey of U.S. population with Arizona State University, where we basically identify what makes consumers so angry they start swearing at a company.
What we find is that in most cases, the customer if they do bring a complaint to the company, they want both an apology, they want some empathy and they want a tangible piece of compensation or remedy. A large number of companies just say, “Well, we don’t need to apologize. We didn’t really do anything wrong so why should we apologize?” By not giving the apology, “I’m sorry to hear that happened. I’d be upset if it happened to you.” even if the customer did contribute a bit to the problem, that doesn’t cost anything but it doubles the potential of making the customer happy and what we have found is that comparing the recent wage study in 2013 to the White House study that we did in the ‘70s. Service and Quality have actually gotten worse over the past 30 years because companies are spending lots more money but they’re doing it in a way that doesn’t make customers happy and they’re doing sort of all the wrong things.
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