As a business owner, I tend to look at everything in my life through that lens, even something as silly as Twitter. I don’t use it for business (which I’m sure social media experts would tell me is a mistake) but I do enjoy using it for sports news and stupid jokes. Recently I’ve been following something interesting that I want to share. I realize you probably don’t expect social media discourse from a CPA, but hear me out.
There is an account on Twitter (@smw04) dedicated to “retweeting” (basically reposting for the uninitiated) complaints that are directed to US Airways. As a frequent US Airways customer, I have a morbid interest in seeing how often the airline delays or cancels flights, doesn’t hold planes for delayed connections, forces passengers to check bags with half-empty overhead bins, et cetera. What struck me about this account were the responses that come from US Airways’ Twitter account. Basically every complaint is met with an apology and a phone number/website address for the customer to request help. What you almost never see is the US Air ways representative actually fixing the problem.
Now I suppose you could commend the airline for trying to engage with its customers, but what’s the point of engaging if all you can do is point them to other avenues to try to get help? Not only that, but responses almost always come back from customers about long hold times on the phone and the 60-day (yes, SIXTY days) wait for customer relations to follow up on a complaint or request for compensation. So the interaction basically becomes a long stream of complaints from customers and apologies from the poor soul who is tasked with monitoring the account. Imagine how frustrating it must be to sit behind a computer all day and watch as complaints roll in with no real power to do anything about them. And from a customer perspective, what’s more frustrating than reaching a representative only to be told there is nothing they can do to help? It’s almost better to not have a presence at all!
So what’s the lesson? Empower your people to do what’s right by your customers. You’ll find that the people best suited to take care of your customers are the people who interact with them every day. With small businesses, I frequently see all of the decision-making power concentrated in the owner or general manager, while those who interact with customers have little authority to impact the policies that affect those customers. Seems counterintuitive, to say the least. If you are afraid to give your employees any power to delight your customers, then that speaks more to you as a manager/owner than it does your employees.
Bottom line: Hire bright, enthusiastic people and train them well. Then empower them to do what is necessary to keep customers happy (within reason of course). If you don’t, those same bright, enthusiastic people will move on to an organization that will. And most likely your customers will follow.
Robert J. Rickert CPA, PC focuses on giving its clients timely, accurate and relevant financial information to help them make informed decisions about their businesses. The firm provides customized solutions to meet the specific needs of its clients. Services offered by the firm include CFO and controller services, crisis management, interim financial management, acquisitions and business buying, divestitures and business selling, litigation support, business tax services, and tax dispute assistance for individuals. For more information, visit rickertcpa.com, call 910-319-9127 or email [email protected].
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