Case Study: Customer Service

The owner of a large, customer-oriented business sought to establish a protocol for managers to follow when customers were dissatisfied and/or when adverse events occurred on the company’s various properties. Up to that point, adverse events had been handled on an ad hoc basis, and, often, the company assumed responsibility even when the facts did not support the claim. This process de-moralized the management team. The owner asked Lee to adapt the Stanford process to her industry.

Working with senior management, Lee first developed a customer service policy based on the company’s stated values of honesty, accountability, and fairness, rather than on the maxim “the customer is always right.”  Procedures were then adopted which created a step-by-step process for managers to follow in the wake of an adverse event.

As at Stanford, the first step is to establish factually what happened. The second step is to rank the severity of the situation and, based on the level of severity, contact the appropriate member of the leadership team charged with resolving events at the evaluated level. The third step is to determine whether the event/complaint is the company’s responsibility and, based on that determination, create an equitable response. The final step is to learn from the event/complaint and make systems corrections where appropriate.

Within 6 months of adapting the policy and procedures, the company saved in excess of $50,000.  Sixty-day post-resolution surveys showed a high level of satisfaction among both customers and managers that translated into both customer and employee retention. The process has now been launched in all divisions of the company, and all key managers have been trained in resolution processes.