What you can do about that moment of truth, when a customer decides to stay or go.
When was the last time you sat on the phone with a customer service rep or stood in the middle of a store, hoping someone would help you out, knowing full well if no one responded gracefully, you'd be done with that company--for good? I call that the moment of truth--the point in time when a company keeps or loses you as a customer.
As a business owner, the way you understand and handle moments like these will often determine your company's likelihood of success and even growth rate.
Undoubtedly, you can expect things to go wrong, and for some customers to be unhappy. It happens with every business. However, it's how you respond and it's the service you provide to right the situation that often decides whether or not customers will come back. Never underestimate the reputation damage you can suffer from bad service.
At SurePayroll, I have three very basic rules so all my employees know how to step up when a moment of truth comes.
Rule No. 1: Operate within the rules and regulations of the industry. Make sure whatever help or advice you give is within the legal and ethical boundaries of the trade. The payroll industry happens to be a particularly sensitive one.
Rule No. 2: If you do what is in the best interest of a customer, you'll be supported. The customer's needs come first--even if you go against another protocol. Your manager supports this; I'll make sure of it.
Rule No. 3: You should be comfortable seeing whatever you do in customer service show up the next day on your Facebook or Twitter feed, or the front page of a newspaper. You should always meet this standard in a moment of truth: If your interaction with a customer was recorded, would you be proud of what you did?
Adhering to these rules could make the difference between your success or failure.
MICHAEL ALTER is president of SurePayroll, America’s leading online payroll service. He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Northwestern University. @michaelalter