Monday, February 23, 2009

Disappointed Customer

Although I religiously send out customer satisfaction surveys, I do not get them returned as often as I wish. Never do I want an unsatisfied customer; that is not to say I won’t have disappointed customers. What’s the difference? An unsatisfied customer believes you took them for X-amount of dollars, and did not apply the work or your professed skills into the job. But a disappointed customer may have hoped you would fine a needle in the haystack in the 10 hours, 1 month, etc., timeframe, and you did not prove their theory or family folklore to be true.

Getting a disappointed customer’s from time to time is inevitable, but as genealogist we must keep the expectation realistic. If I’m pulling military records, I always send to the customer information beforehand on the 1973 fire and its affect on military records, and an estimated timeframe for the job to be completed. But what happens if there aren’t records, or the records found and reconstructed aren’t clear enough to get copies. Well, I do the next best thing, I transcribe, and I send them any and all information that I do have. It might just be a draft registration card, or payroll information.

I realize the customer does not know what goes into getting military records, the pre-search required by a3Genealogy: obtaining of release forms, coordinating the meetings with the NARA, verifying that the information they gave you guarantees that the John Doe you are searching for is the correct John Doe, etc. But, I must be accountable for due diligence - maintaining a log and action report, not just for the customer (included in part of their final report) but also as a checklist for me to keep that tinge of guilt, caused from disappointing them, at bay, (although it never goes away).

Of course there are other options that you can offer a disappointed customer. What about a Morning Report? Yep, it costs more, but let the customer decide if that solution is within their budget. I try to be creative and provide other options in their final report.

Now, an unsatisfied customer says “something needs to be put into action.” But how would I know, if they did not send back the survey? How can I make amends? How can I redeem the only thing I really sell: my service?!? My pledge is to serve the customer with his/her genealogical needs utilizing my research skills and willingness to try creative ways to possibly obtain the information (even if I’m doing research on a William Smith!)

By using the survey, I can not only learn from what I did right, but why I have an unsatisfied customer. Now, based on information given, I can resolve an issue, or at minimum analyze the situation: Does the customer feel cheated because he was certain in 10 hours you could find his family legacy in 1840?, or was it you who did not read all the documentation that the customer sent you carefully enough, and you missed a vital part of what was expected? The list of what could go wrong is endless, but the best part, is the list that can go right is also infinite.

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