Sitting by the window on the top floor of a high-rise Dallas hotel provides an amazing panoramic view. Weather becomes up close and personal. I watched a major rain storm crawl across the distant plains and deliver a hard punch to downtown Dallas streets. It sent pedestrians scurrying for cover. Cars slowed to a snail’s pace; streets gorged with torrents quickly looked more like a river than a freeway.
Customers are in the cross-hairs of a perfect storm. The hard hitting, long lasting recession has left them anxious about the future and cautious about investing in service that does not have obvious value. The shift from face-to-face and ear-to-ear service to automated self-service, often without an exit or access to a person for help has left them frustrated by convenience gone awry. And, the power of the Internet and social media has provided customers with the tool to deliver a downpour of blame as they flood cyberspace with their caustic critique.
But, like the view of an impending storm from a high floor, customers often provide early warning. They register their discontent before they report their wrath. Wise organizations monitor tweets and blogs to learn of a looming emotional gale. They empower frontline service providers to become assertive scouts and whistleblowing sentries eager to share customer intelligence for rapid intervention and recovery. They link complaint trends and themes to inform root cause analysis and correction. Don’t get caught in the service storm! Really listen to your customers. They can be your best weather reporter!