Customer Experience Strategy – Resolving Disputes

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The customer is always right.

As guiding principles go, it’s not a bad one. Customers can be difficult at times but without them there isn’t a business. As such they should be treated with absolute respect and their concerns  addressed immediately. And even when your customer is straying into territory that might fairly be labelled “unreasonable” there is little to be gained from pointing that out. Much better to resolve the issue quickly, calmly and efficiently. 

Most customer complaints are fairly clear cut. A product doesn’t work properly and needs to be replaced or a delivery is late. In these cases it is clearly up to the seller to take rapid remedial action.

Two Views of the Truth 

But not every customer complaint can be resolved quickly. All good merchants will refund customers, replace products or pay compensation when they are at fault. However, there will always be occasions when it’s not clear where the fault lies. Often this is because the customer’s account of a particular issue doesn’t square with the perception of the website manager or customer service team. And if the two parties can’t agree, the result is a dispute or a protracted investigation to uncover the truth.

Let’s take an example. A credit card company customer is notified of a penalty charge for not making a monthly payment on time. The customer is naturally upset and calls customer service, claiming that he tried to make the payment but due to several apparent software crashes during the process he was forced to give up. Instead he made the payment the following morning.

The customer service agent who takes the call is helpful but there is nothing on the CRM (customer relationship management) system to verify the customer’s claim. At this point the agent has a dilemma. He can accept the customer’s account and remove the penalty charge. Alternatively he can work on the assumption that the customer might be mistaken, or even lying to escape the charge. Often the customer will be asked to make a formal complaint, which will be investigated. There will be no quick resolution. 

This kind of dispute arises all the time and in all e-commerce sectors. A customer might claim to have ordered just one bookcase not three from a DIY site. Another customer may claim that he bought a tablet for £100 (as advertised on the site) but was charged £250 (the correct amount, according to the site manager). Again, customer service staff have no immediate evidence from which to work and we have a dispute situation. 

Rapid Resolution

The software provided by UserReplay provides a rapid means to establish what a customer did and didn’t do.

UserReplay enables online businesses to record and replay all customer journeys, page by page and click by click. This can be used as a tool to identify problems that customers face, allowing website managers to rectify issues such as poorly designed pages or poorly functioning software and, thus, improve the customer experience.  But the system also provides a highly effective way to verify or disprove customer claims, should a dispute arise. 

Let’s go back to our example. The customer claims that a repeating software glitch prevented him from making a payment. UserReplay replays that part of the journey, establishing (a) whether or not the customer was there at the time he said he was and (b) if he encountered software problems. 

This replay can be carried out by a sales agent, allowing a decision either for or against the customer.

In other words, UserReplay provides the evidence to resolve disputes. This is not only good for website managers but also for customers, many of whom will have genuine, but hitherto, hard to verify claims. 

Photo: John Loo/flickr cc