VP Business Development EMEAA
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While product recalls are generally regarded now as a responsible measure of ensuring customer safety, they do still have to be handled carefully if your brand, and your company, is to remain unaffected during the process. The way that customers are managed during the recall process can have a huge impact on long-term customer satisfaction and their loyalty to your brand. With the stakes so high, it’s imperative that whether you are handling the recall internally, or via a dedicated contact centre, you are ready to manage the influx of calls and questions.
Good experiences with brand representatives can enhance a customer’s loyalty; however, negative experiences can extend far beyond the affected customers. Imagine a customer has a poor experience with a contact centre representative, and then discusses that experience in the heat of the moment on social media. One disgruntled customer has spread the word to all their connections, who now potentially share that experience as well. At this point, your company’s image is in danger. If you then take that customer and multiply them by others having the same frustrating experience when they call, your brand is now in an unnecessary crisis.
To avoid a customer service nightmare, there are some simple tips to follow that will deliver the optimal customer experience during a product recall:
Make sure the contact centre is properly staffed
In the initial days of a recall, assigned contact teams or centres often experience an influx of calls that extend well beyond their normal capacity. Preparing for this in advance can eliminate lengthy hold times, disconnected calls and may help to increase recall participation. Third-party providers can help with the influx of calls, allowing the brand to focus on its core business.
Consider geographic scale and languages affected
In today’s complex global supply chain, the possibility of needing multi-lingual contact centre representatives is very real. In the Q1 2016 Stericycle Recall Index http://www.stericycleexpertsolutions.co.uk/thought-leadership/#recall, two or more recalls of the 139 relating to food and beverages from January to March came from 50 different countries. If customers can’t understand a representative, they won’t be able to return the product or arrange for it to be repaired, leaving your company open to low recall response rates, possible regulatory compliance issues and potential legal action from consumers. In addition, contact centres should utilise a multi-lingual recall website to accommodate all affected customers.
Train centre staff as extensions of your brand
In times of crisis, communications with customers must be accurate, timely, and consistent. Contact centre representatives, whether internal or external, need thorough training to provide relevant recall information and ensure the customer experience is seamless. Even one representative providing misinformation can damage your brand, especially when safety issues are involved. Third party providers can help, however their staff must be trained as extensions of your brand and this should also be event-specific to streamline the call process. Customers should not be able to decipher the difference between your brand and an external contact centre.
Of course, not all third party recall solution providers have the same capabilities or experience in successfully managing product recalls. Discuss training protocols, scalability, technology and capabilities upfront to ensure your brand has the best representation.
The key is to act quickly and put the customer experience front of centre of your recall policy. You may have only one chance to make a great impression.
VP Business Development EMEAA
Farzad Henareh is Vice President Business Development at Stericycle ExpertSolutions EMEAA. He joined the UK Management team in 2012. His role is to lead the strategic development of the European ExpertSOLUTIONS business unit and extend the reach of its services outside of the US. Prior to joining the ExpertSOLUTIONS European business, Farzad...