Dealing with Detractors - the 5 Critical Steps




Dealing with Detractors

- the 5 Critical Steps 

No service operation is perfect and inevitably situations will arise where your team's efforts to deliver an outstanding player experience will fall short. However, what separates leading customer service organizations from the rest of the pack is what happens next.



Here’s the 5 essential steps to ensure that your team can effectively deal with an unsatisfied customer and turn the situation around, retaining a valuable customer and potentially converting them from a detractor into an active promoter of your course. 


Step 1 - Set up the lines of communication
Most of the time, customers will only take their complaint online if they feel that there is no other way to communicate their dissatisfaction with their experience. Making sure that phone/email contact information and a customer comment form for your course is readily available is an obvious first step in heading off a negative online review. 

Even better: many tee sheets can send out a thank you note to players after they have completed their round. Including a link to a quick survey in the email can provide a convenient way to start the conversation, providing an easy way for players to voice any concerns with their experience. 

Implementing a simple survey is easy - Players 1st provides a Digital Comment Card survey that consists of just 3 questions:

  • How likely is it that you would recommend the course to friends, family or colleagues?
  • What was the best part of your experience?
  • What could we do to make your experience better?

You will probably recognize the first question as the Net Promoter Score – this is a powerful indicator of customer loyalty, and is an essential metric for any course to track as part of their operating KPIs. The next questions provide an opportunity for the feedback – both positive and negative – which can provide valuable input for club managers to align operations to improve the overall player experience.


Step 2 - Don’t leave them hanging
In today’s 24/7 communication environment, to satisfy the expectations of 85% of customers, businesses need to respond to emails in one hour according to a recent survey by Toister Performance Solutions – a customer service training firm.


Furthermore, the faster the response time to the customer, the higher the likelihood of turning a negative situation around. Customers that receive a fast response to their concern feel that their input has been heard and taken seriously which creates a positive starting point for a dialog to resolve the issue.

While this sounds great in theory, the practical challenge for most courses is finding the time to effectively monitor customer feedback in the face of an already long list of essential tasks required to keep course operations moving.

However, technology can play a role in streamlining this process by leveraging push notifications to alert course personnel when time-sensitive customer feedback has been received.

For example, Players 1st subscribers can configure a variety of notifications to let them know in real time whenever customer feedback is received which matches their notification preferences. The notifications are email based and contain the respondent’s comments and contact information allowing fast response via smart phones and other mobile devices.


Step 3 - Listen and acknowledge
The very first step in dealing with the customer’s concern is to listen to their explanation of the situation in its entirety and without interruptions. Communicate that you understand they are upset, even if you don’t necessarily agree with their point of view. 

Ideally this exchange would take place in person or on the phone, however, in some cases the customer may have only left an email address. Nevertheless, it is still possible to engage the customer in a dialog around their experience and ensure that the complaint is understood and the customer feels like they have been heard.

The customer is not always right, but you can still be sorry that he or she had a disappointing experience.


Step 4 - Focus on the solution
Only after you’ve listened to the customer’s complaint and acknowledged, can you offer your side of the story - not as an excuse, but as an explanation. A customer’s misunderstanding or lack of information could have contributed to his complaint, and learning more about your course’s procedures and underlying rationale might help settle his emotions.

A couple of key points: Keep it short as the more you say increases the chance of raising another argument. And keep the conversation moving towards a solution.

Finally make sure you can deliver on your promises. You’re not going to drastically change your course policies or operations based on a single customer complaint, but there may be other steps you can take such as modifying a procedure or talk to an employee to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again. The objective here is that by explaining the actions you intend to take, you demonstrate to the customer that his feedback was valued and has been given serious consideration.

If you can, give the customer a financial incentive for a future purchase. This could be a discount code for a round that incentivizes the player to come back for an additional - and hopefully, more positive—experience with your course. 


Step 5 - Learning from customer feedback
While somewhat stressful and time-consuming, listening to your customers and acting on their feedback is a key component of delivering an exceptional customer experience. 

However, dealing with customer complaints should not just be considered a fire-fighting exercise – complaints will often highlight internal process or personnel deficiencies that will likely raise their ugly head again if not addressed through operational actions such as modifying procedures, setting performance standards and training personnel.

Players 1st Dashboard on device iPad.jpg

Furthermore, by engaging customers in an ongoing dialog through a robust Customer Experience Management tool such as Players 1st, course operators can obtain more granular feedback and richer insights into organizational performance at each customer touchpoint. 

This data can be aggregated and mined using dashboards and data analytics to drive operational excellence initiatives, creating a continuous improvement cycle and ultimately reducing the number of detractor responses.

In conclusion, negative feedback may be tough love, but without it you wouldn’t truly know how to deliver an exceptional customer experience that keeps them coming back. So always thank customers for their feedback, even if it is negative. 


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