Accountability in Customer Service: Three Examples

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These three examples of accountability in customer service illustrate how to remain accountable to your external and internal customers.

An important goal of customer service is to be accountable to external customers, together with your internal customers, such as your fellow team members, including colleagues from other departments; if we find ourselves making excuses and “passing the buck” to others, we need to reexamine our behavior. After all, our customers and teammates rely us to resolve and follow through with customer service issues and complaints.

Thus, when we discuss accountability in customer service, we mean owning, and following through with, customer service issues, regardless of whether those customer service issues are “out of our control.” It also means making the customer experience as streamlined as possible.

This week, we want to share some common examples that illustrate accountability in customer service. Indeed, we encourage you to share these examples with your team and to incorporate them into your customer service training program.

Example 1: “That’s out of our control.”

Scenario: A customer who ordered your product didn’t receive the shipment because the package was delivered to the wrong address.

  • Not Accountable: “Sorry, that’s out of our control. We’ll have to ship you another one after we receive the return.”
  • Accountable: “I apologize for the delivery issue. Let me see what I can do to get another one to you right away. What is your telephone number so I can call you back?”

Accountable Solutions:  Consider (i) contacting the delivery company to ascertain the whereabouts of the package so that it can be delivered as soon as possible; (ii) determining whether a local representative in the customer’s region can custom deliver the package to the customer; or (iii) “comping” or discounting the invoice if the first two options are not possible.

Lesson: Accountability in customer service involves resolving issues, regardless of whether they are within our control. We should do whatever it takes to resolve a customer service issue, even if it means having to reach out to vendors and third parties.

Example 2: “You called the wrong department.”

Scenario: A customer who needs technical support calls your sales department instead.

  • Not Accountable: “Sorry, you’ll need to contact technical support. Here’s their number.”
  • Accountable: “I’m sorry for the issue you are experiencing. Let me get a technical support agent on the line so we can get this resolved.”

Accountable Solutions: Instead of requiring the customer to make another call and experience additional hold time, conference in a technical support agent. If a technical support agent is not available, obtain the telephone number and email address of the customer, and have the technical support agent call the customer as soon as he or she is available. Be sure to follow up with the customer to ensure that the technical support agent called him or her back and resolved the issue.

Lesson: Accountability in customer service involves owning and following through with customer service issues. From the perspective of the customer, the technical issue is the responsibility of your business itself, rather than a particular department or employee of your business.

Example 3: “Try using another browser.”

Scenario: A customer is unable to order a product because of an apparent browser compatibility issue.

  • Not Accountable: “Sorry, you’ll need to use another browser. Call us back if that doesn’t work.”
  • Accountable: “I’m sorry about this. Let me take your order over the phone.”

Accountable Solutions: Instead of requiring the customer to download and use another Internet browser, simply process the customer’s order over the phone (like in the “old days”).

Lesson: Accountability in customer service requires streamlining the sales process. From the perspective of the customer, a browser compatibility issue is your – not the customer’s – issue, which is especially true if the customer does not experience any browser compatibility issues with your competitor.

We’re hopeful that these three examples of accountability in customer service will help your team members remain accountable not only to their external customers, but also to each other.

As always, have a “customerific” – and accountable – week!