It’s been two days now, and I haven’t heard boo.
If you read Monday’s blog post, you may recall my frustration with the hassle I had at Walmart, when I went to pick up a special order item at local store on Saturday.
Sunday morning, I made a point of logging onto the Walmart site, to offer some constructive feedback. After all, what good is frustration if you don’t convert it into something positive, right? And how could I blog about customer service with a straight face, if I don’t try to contribute to its improvement?
So, I made a fresh cup of coffee, settled down on the sofa, and fired up my laptop. I googled “Walmart customer feedback” and landed on this screen:
I completed the form with detailed comments, including what I felt were thoughtful suggestions, provided all the required contact information, and sent it in – once to the local store, and once to the corporate headquarters.
That was Sunday morning. It’s now Wednesday morning, and I haven’t heard back from anyone.
Call me naive, but I always thought it’s reasonable to call a customer back within 24 hours, if they express a concern. Now, you might say that Walmart receives a lot of feedback, and they can’t be expected to answer everyone’s questions that quickly.
On the other hand, you might say that Walmart is a large company, with sophisticated information systems and well-thought-out processes, so they should at least be able to send me an automated email response. After all, they did require me to provide my email and phone number on the feedback form, right?
This brings up a good question….
How quickly should a company respond to customer complaints, comments or suggestions?
Within 24 hours? 48 hours? 1 week?
Should a company start by sending an automated response that says,
Dear Mr. Watson,
Thank you for submitting your comments. Customer feedback is important to us, and we review all comments carefully. You can expect to hear back from a customer experience specialist with the next 72 hours. Again, we thank you for taking the time to give us your thoughts.
And most of all, we appreciate your business.
What three simple steps should a company take, when they receive written feedback?
When your customers take the time to give honest feedback, respond as soon as possible, to let them know you received it. This can be accomplished with a well-worded automated email, like the one above. (In the spirit of full disclosure, Walmart does display the on-screen message shown at the bottom of this post, but that kind of passive acknowledgement is not a sufficient acknowledgement!)
Set clear expectations.
In the initial response, tell the customer when they can expect to hear from you. Be reasonable and rapid. This is an opportunity to impress your customers, and you should take advantage of it!
Live up to the expectations you set.
Respond when you said you’ll respond. That’s how trust is built. If it means establishing a case management or triage process, implementing case management software, or hiring additional staff to manage the load, that’s what you should do. These are your customers, and you need to give their concerns the same level of attention that you would give to a shipment of freight that has been delayed. In the end, it’s the same thing – establishing credibility, trust and dependability with your customers.
When your customers provide feedback, respond immediately. If you don’t, they might think you’re ignoring them. Then they might start ignoring you. And if that happens, what would happen to your bottom line?