One customer service technique that we learned from Zingerman's customer service training is the use of a Code Red or Code Green scoring system.
Very simply, any negative (or positive) customer feedback gets recorded and reviewed. Even though this system is more qualitative than quantitative because it relies on participation from customers and employees, we have learned that it is incredibly helpful nonetheless.
The Most Important Source of Feedback Is ...
Obviously, data should be gathered from Yelp, Google, Facebook or any other reporting mechanisms that are already out in the marketplace. However, online reviews for most businesses are infrequent.
The most valuable feedback comes from the staff that deals with customer issues every single day.
Gaining the participation of all employees in the service or operational part of the business is essential to the success of this customer service system.
We’ve discovered that it is even more meaningful to report on issues that have the potential to affect the customer negatively even if it’s corrected beforehand.
Code Reds Can Be Internal
For example, in the dry cleaning business, it’s important to check the pockets of garments before cleaning. A pen or lipstick can ruin a whole load of clothes.
This is the job of the person invoicing the clothes.
If the cleaner catches something in the pocket before cleaning, he issues a code red even though the customer doesn’t know anything about it.
Code Reds Can Affect Customers
Code Reds that affect customers are also recorded with an important next step which is to resolve it with the customer.
Let’s say a customer’s order is gets done late after he has already come to pick it up. It’s not good enough to just wait until he comes in again to pick up his order.
This customer is probably upset that we didn’t hold up our end of the agreement and have the clothes done on time.
A better customer service approach is to take preemptive action. An employee should call the customer, offer to deliver the order, and give a gift certificate or something to compensate for the delay.
Which is why you should always ...
Turn a Code Red Into a Code Green
Code Reds not only need to be fixed internally, they need to get resolved with the customer as well.
This step is often forgotten as the employee wants to avoid the customer and the issue yet it is the most important part of the process.
And, if done correctly, Code Red’s can often be turned into Code Greens.
Most people know that problems happen.
How you handle these problems makes all the difference between a great company and the rest of the crowd.
Following up when you screw up means you care.
And the silver lining:
You Can Turn A Mistake Into An Opportunity
Hopefully, you’re in a business where things go smoothly most of the time. But, when things are going well, there is usually little opportunity to interact with busy customers.
Problems and issues give you face time with your clients. Take advantage of the mistake, go above and beyond, and look at the experience as an opportunity to connect with your client on a personal level.
What have we learned from our Code Red/Code Green system?
Problems come from 3 areas -
Management’s first instinct is to blame the employee, but he's rarely the root cause.
Good service starts with a good system then good training of that system. When you break down the mistakes you'll often realize there hasn't been adequate training and that’s management’s job.
Consequently….Code Reds provide training opportunities. Even the best training manuals can't cover every situation. Code Reds provide for an on-going training program throughout the organization.
Problems that are handled well allow for businesses to build customer relationships.
All employees should participate in Zingerman's customer service system, not just customer service staff. Engaging everyone on issues that touch the customer is a great way to build a culture of service.