Monday, February 1, 2010

Can You Train Your Employees to Solve Problems?

Over the last week I have had some very interesting interactions in the B2B environment involving our company. It is a New Year and part of our company's strategy is to be BOLD. (See Barbara A. Hughes, Intellectual Capital Consulting's Co-Founder, first blog on the subject). So, we really are taking some of our own advice...imagine that.

So, with BOLDNESS in mind we decide to :

1) Buy email marketing lists
2) Buy new laptops
3) Buy a license for salesforce/email automation

We made all 3 purchases in one week. (is that BOLD or just CRAZY?)

So, I would like to contrast the customer experiences to see what I learned.

1). One vendor sent the email marketing list with duplicates and missing information not once but twice. Although quite apologetic, it took making an announcement on Twitter to get the issue resolved.

2) Another vendor told us he could not fulfill or laptop order for a particular color that we configured online because that was for "home" customers and not "business" customers. I then suggested that I had my credit card out ready to buy and that he needed to figure that out internally. After 24 hours and an announcement on Twitter, he did figure how to get me my Laptop with the green circles, after I was ready to switch vendors.

3) Another vendor worked with us on price as a small business, gave us a discount, and walked me through the ordering process to make sure I was comfortable with the order. He did all of this while at the airport leaving for his vacation. He sent follow up emails and gave me contact information for another employee while he is on vacation.

Which one of the three am I raving about to friends, family and anyone else that will listen?

So what could vendor 1 and 2 from above done differently?

Employees from those two vendors should have been able to solve the problem immediately. It's not that a problem occurred, we all make mistakes. It's all about the solution and resolution and the SPEED that that resolution occurs.

So, then I asked myself if it is all about problem solving, can you train your employees to be better problem solvers? Is it really training or is the authority to make this resolutions at the critical point in the customer experience? How to you incorporate speed into your customer service process?

I have my own thoughts, but I would like to hear yours....
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