Customer Service Initiatives 2008 – Part One of Many
Our customers are our most valuable asset, and are a group of people that we strive to impress all day, every day. With more than 57,000 customers since August 2004, growing the company from 5 employees to 65 employees, more than 100,000 shipments and over $65,000,000 in gross VoIP equipment sales, I can safely say that we have had some hurdles to overcome, but have always placed the customer first and done our best to over-deliver.
Over the years there have been a few instances where we just plain got it all wrong. Like any growing business, we have made decisions that started with good intentions but ended up with poor results. Some customers have been nice enough to point out these issues to others; other customers have taken part in our customer satisfaction surveys and brought to light many areas where we can improve. The purpose of this post and others to follow is to highlight some areas of need and our plans to improve.
Returns: One area that has been a thorn in our side (and the side of many retailers) is the handling of product returns. No one likes to have to return a product and most are upset to begin with since the device is not working. Once upon a time our process for returns was slow and inconsistent with poor communication throughout the process. I am happy to say that this has been addressed and has improved, and that we have plans to continue improving the process even further. With dedicated staff, refined returns criteria, additional returns details/options printed on the packing slip and invoice, automated communications with each customer through various stages of the process and transparency, and expectations each customer should have make the end result far more positive.
Since we are not a manufacturer, we are not able to ensure that the products work, only that they can be replaced efficiently, if and when they break. From our experience and customer feedback, one common theme has been not knowing what status of the return is. We now communicate with each customer when a request for a Return Merchandise Authorization has been received, when an RMA number is granted or declined, when an RMA expires, when the return is received in our warehouse, when it has been tested, when the tested return is approved or declined and when the final credit is processed. This entire procedure now has service level assurances included where the testing and processing must be completed within 48 hours, and initial RMA requests are all handled within one business day or sooner.
There are dozens of other customer service projects and initiatives going on; I will detail them in future posts. Most are related to communications in one manner or another. With effective, consistent and proactive communications, our customers are always informed and able to focus on their needs without the distraction of tracking down their products.