Solving the WHYDFMT Problem in Customer Service

Come on, say it out loud three times real fast.  Solving the WHYDFMT problem in Customer Service, solving the… forget it.  Quite a mouthful, ain’t it?  Alas, this is the quintessential problem of customer service and the one you need to tackle.  Forget channels, and feedback, and measurement and all that stuff.  That is secondary.  If you want to build a successful customer service and support strategy this is where you are going to focus: WHYDFMT.

Which, when spelled out, means What Have You Done For Me Today. This is the attitude of customers towards customer service – and the reason you must do things differently.  Let me explain.

I have written countless times that Loyalty does not exist (come to think of it, it is the most popular post in this site – if you have not read it yet, take some time to do so – I’ll wait right here).  It should not be measured, sought, or intended.  I have not been listened by lots of people, but lots of head-nodding ensue.  WHYDFMT is why loyalty is not a goal for your organization.  Customers, when dealing with customer service, take the attitude that each instance is a fresh, brand-new, out-of-the-box time for your to prove your love for them.  Each time they approach customer service they want something and they don’t care what you did for them last time – actually, that reinforces the feeling of entitlement (I promise, I am not bitter or resentful – just noticing things).

You gave them a credit last time they were late with their payment, well – do it again.  You refunded a fee they did not understand (although they signed up for it when they contracted the service), well – do it again.  This creates a problem within the organization where managers don’t want to continue the trend and CSRs don’t want to deal with customers.  It creates a big problem for management when customers are willing to criticize them for the performance today and forget the performance yesterday.  It makes the company look like it provides bad customer service based on, maybe, one bad instance.  That is bad for your brand and you have to change it.

So, how do you solve this problem?  Let me point you to the solution in an example: Zappos.  That’s right, the telephone / online shoe sales organization. By design, every single instance when a customer contacts the organization will be a delightful experience.  Every single time.  It is part of the corporate culture, it is part of their brand – some even would say part of their mysticism.  This is who they are, not what they do.  This is their persona, their representation to their world, their promise to their customers and to themselves.  That is why it works.

So, as usual towards the end of the post, what shall you do to partake on this?  First, recognize Loyalty is not a worthy pursuit (yes, again) and focus instead of delivering excellent experiences.  Each time and every time.  Easiest way to do that?

1. Conduct Feedback Events – use surveys, or any other tool, to ask customers what problems you have in your experiences today.

2. Implement an Experience Initiative – Zappos did not get to excellent experiences by wishing them, they planned for them.

3. Continuous Improvement – over time, even the most excellent experiences tend to become dated. Update them.

In other words, to solve the WHYDFMT problem – avoid the question.  Make it very clear, explicit, and documented (have you seen the feedback that Zappos gets from customers – almost fanatical) that you are about your experiences and customers won’t ask that question anymore… and they will become loyal (sorry, parting pun – could not resist).

What do you think?  Is this something that may work for you?  Let me know your thoughts and experiences — and as always, email me if you want more details or have any questions (ekolsky at evergance dot com).

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