All companies sooner or later have incidents. Incidents can be, for example, incorrect delivery to a customer, products that break or a subcontractor who handles the customer incorrectly. Regardless of what caused the incident, it is the company that made the sale to the customer that is responsible for the incident being resolved satisfactorily.
A problem with handling and evaluating incidents is that customers and employees often do not have the same opinion about what caused an incident and how well the incident was resolved. It also often happens that customers and employees have different views on how serious the incident is and why the incident ended in a satisfactory or unsatisfactory result. In other words, there is often a noticeably big difference in how customers and employees view incidents.
Both customers and employees often view that they themselves have contributed to a satisfactorily resolved incident, while something other than themselves has caused an incident to be resolved unsatisfactorily. Psychologists call this phenomenon “attribution” and the theory in short means that when something goes well you see it as your own merit but when something goes wrong it depends on an external factor, for example another person or a machine or routine in the company.
No matter the different opinions, the most important source of whether an incident has been resolved satisfactorily, is to ask the customer about the incident. The customer is the one who must be satisfied.
Another problem with incidents is that many customers never report incidents at all. Some surveys show that one third of the customers who have had a medium-sized incident never gets in touch with the company. In cases where the customer doesn’t get in touch with the company, the company won’t get a chance to correct what went wrong, and thus risk having a dissatisfied customer.
To get as many of the dissatisfied customers as possible to get in touch, the company can encourage customers to get in touch with complaints and make it easy to complain. By receiving the complaints, the company gets an opportunity to resolve any problems and thus get more satisfied customers.
In addition to resolving incidents, research shows that it is important for companies to respond quickly to incidents and ensure that the customer perceives the resolution as fair and that the company provides reasonable compensation.
Even if incidents are to be avoided, it can be good to know that if an incident still occurs, it does not necessarily mean that the customer turns negative towards the company. An incident that is resolved in a good way can actually strengthen the relationship between the customer and the company, and in certain circumstances make the customer more satisfied than before the incident took place.