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Issue Ownership is Pivotal to Satisfactory Customer Experience

August 9, 2013

Issue ownership is a key factor for rescuing customer satisfaction

In today’s information explosion era, many business associations across the industry spectrum have been increasingly giving customer dimension initiatives higher priorities than the product dimension ones because customer centric operations are viewed as necessary maneuvers to prevent negative business impacts from bad publicities driven by customer dissatisfaction, as well as to enable positive word-of-mouth marketing exploitations propagated by loyal customers.
Although it takes a right set of customer-first strategies and a lot of execution effort to soar to the summit on customer satisfaction ratings, one customer experience predicament could quickly pull a company down from the apex. To avoid the downfall from grace in the customer experience altar, businesses must ensure that issues are befittingly owned throughout the entire resolution cycles. In other words, adequate issue ownership must always partner with an issue resolution to save customer satisfaction.

Even top ranked businesses miss on customer issue ownership

Described below is a case in point of issue ownership mismanagement by Best Western Plus in Montreal despite the fact that the hotel chain was ranked #2 In J.D. Power’s 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study in the midscale hotelier category. My family and I were staying at the Best Western Plus in May 2013 on vacation. Having received a repugnant treatment by one breakfast serving personnel in the hotel, I reported the incident to a polite and understanding front desk clerk who after comprehending the matter told me that the manager of the kitchen staffs was not on site at the moment but she would ensure that the manager would be informed and that the problem would be corrected before breakfast the following morning.
The same unpleasant scene repeated itself again at our next breakfast. I communicated the second incident to the same clerk right away. She called the breakfast server who immediately corrected her problem. In this article, the breakfast attendant’s disagreeable service behavior is not the misdeed featured for discussion. Instead, the front desk clerk’s lapse on issue ownership and the resulting damage is the slag highlighted for attention.

Issue ownership is about reversing discontent and building loyalty

Best Western Plus stumbled on four areas, result of the domino effect of an issue ownership failure. 1. The front desk representative had not followed up with us about the correction status of the reported issue later on the first day. 2. The kitchen staff manager had not apologized to us for what had had happened and shared with us their rectification progress if the kitchen staff manager had indeed been notified of the issue. 3. The hotel had not followed up with us after we had checked out to express their regret for our rueful experience and to appreciate for our having taken the time to expose the problem to them. 4. Best Western missed the opportunity to reverse the discontent and create customer satisfaction and loyalty by amplifying a corporate apology with enticing compensations.

Issue ownership is an obligation, not an option

Not only was the front desk service agent obliged to ensure that the customer would be updated on the issue reparation status, but also was she responsible to file an issue and remedy report to the corporate customer experience team to ensure the completeness of the hotel’s global issue record which is not only the analytical foundation of customer experience measurements against their customer centric initiatives but also the stimulator to strategize improvements against trespasses. A measured performance based on a partial issue database is not an accurate metric to use to develop improvement strategies, and new customer centric initiatives cannot be effectively architected without examining all arisen issues.

The vicious circle of issue ownership misstep

Delinquent issue ownership further disenchants the already alienated customer, misses the contingent opportunity to transform a discontent customer into an advocate, and begets ineffective global customer experience improvements because of incomplete issue diaries. Sadly the issue ownership mishap showcased by Best Western Plus had just demonstrated a perfect example of the causal nexus of an issue ownership failure and its four undesirable consequences.

How do you manage customer issue ownership?