Making the Most of Customer Complaints

No company is perfect. It’s simply a fact, not an excuse.

That is why it is important for businesses to realize that the way they handle customer complaints is just as important as trying to provide great service in the first place.

Customers and clients are constantly judging companies for service failures. First, they judge the company on how it handles the issues and then on its willingness to make sure similar problems don’t happen in the future.

Most companies limit service recovery to the staff that directly deals with the customer. Often customer service sorts out the immediate problem, offers an apology or some compensation and then assumes all is well.

But in the end this approach is damaging because it does nothing to address the underlying problem, ultimately guaranteeing similar issues will arise.

What businesses should be doing is looking at service recovery as a mission that involves three parties: customers who want their complaints resolved; managers in charge of addressing the concerns; and the frontline employees who deal with the customers. All three must be integrated into addressing and fixing service problems.

Here are some quick strategies for real resolutions when it comes to improving service recovery:

  • Create and apply a “service logic” – This should be a mission statement or summary of how and why your business provides its services. It should integrate the goals of the service, customers and employees. The result should serve as a guide both for delivering service and for help with service recovery.
  • Draw attention to success – You can use in-house publications, intranets or training programs to share stories that emphasize your company’s values and culture. Just don’t forget to highlight the heroes of service-recovery stories.
  • Collect and share data – Companies must gather more feedback about poor service, record it and make it accessible. This will help equip managers and other employees with strong information to be effective at resolving disputes.
  • Measure employee performance – Positive reinforcement and incentives should be offered for solving problems and pleasing customers. Likewise there should be disincentives or demerits for poor handling of customer complaints.

To learn more about how to improve service recovery, read the article by Stefan Michel, David Bowen and Robert Johnston this information was taken from.

Hiring in November & December Bolsters Job Picture

November and December surveys indicate hiring in both service and manufacturing sectors has increased when compared to the previous year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) survey.

In November, both the service and manufacturing sectors saw significant increases compared with 2012. A net of 34.1 percent of service-sector companies expanded payroll in November, and a net of 40.4 percent of manufacturers added jobs.

“Our survey shows the highest net hiring rates of November in both sectors in four years,” said Jennifer Schramm, manager of the SHRM’s workforce trends and forecasting, in late October upon interpreting the survey information for November 2013.

While December projections for service-sector hiring were not as bright – it is the first month since July 2012 that hiring will not increase compared to the previous year – manufacturing job creation continued to increase compared with a year ago.

The LINE report not only examines employers’ hiring expectations, but also new-hire compensation, difficulties in recruiting top-level talent and job vacancies.

Results indicated a net of 18 percent of manufacturing respondents had a tougher time recruiting in October, an increase of 6.1 points from the previous year. And a net of 17.4 percent of service-center HR professionals found recruiting more challenging, up 5.9 points from a year ago.

This trend continued with the following month’s LINE report. In November, a net of 13.6 percent of manufacturing respondents had difficulty recruiting, an increase of 0.2 points from the previous year. And a net of 18.7 percent of service-sector HR professionals had more trouble recruiting, up 8.5 points from 2012.

Schramm noted in November that “new-hire compensation also inched up slightly in both sectors, suggesting that employers are starting to feel at least some pressure to increase the compensations packages on offers for hear-to-fill positions.”

For more information on hiring projections, read the articles in the November and December reports this information was taken from.

New Flash of Optimism for Small Business Owners

A surge in confidence in July and August reached some of the highest levels since the recession started, according to a handful of recent surveys.

For example, the quarterly small-business optimism index from Wells Fargo and Gallup reached its highest level since the third quarter of 2008. Likewise the National Federation of Independent Business showed its fourth-highest index reading since December 2007.

In addition, the Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey said that of the 678 business owners surveyed, 73% expect revenues to increase in the next year and 54% expect profitability to improve.

Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic Inc., is already seeing an increase in demand for his business in Portland, Ore. His shop has consistently taken in about 15 cars per day since the recession, but the amount customer spent on repairs in an order had dropped 20% from 2007 to 2010. In recent months, though, he has seen the dollar per repair order climb back to pre-recession levels.

“I think people are no longer afraid of losing their jobs … they’re more willing to take care of their cars and buy things like tires and shock absorbers,” Houser said.

But the shift in small-business confidence may be a bit premature when considering the overall economic outlook. Though it is improving, the current economy is still far from robust, with unemployment just above 7% and gross-domestic-product growth behind the long-run average of 3.5%.

For more information, read the article by Adam Janosky this information was taken from. If you have questions about your small business insurance needs, please contact us today and we would be happy to help you!