How not to react when something goes wrong
The way you handle mistakes goes a long way in maintaining trust in your services.
Communicate as honestly and as straightforwardly as you can and explain how you are going to fix the problem.
Everybody makes mistakes - this is an inevitable fact. However, handling these mistakes correctly with your citizens and users in mind goes a long way in maintaining trust in your services.
Here are our 5 don’ts so you can best handle the times when things don’t go to plan.
1. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.
Whilst it is true that the same issue can affect multiple service users, this doesn’t mean that each one of them should be handled in exactly the same way. Repeating treatment can result in generic ‘dear service user’ emails or scripted responses which - no matter how well-rehearsed - will leave a customer feeling frustrated and isolated as they try to communicate their individual problems. You can draw upon your CRM technology to deliver a personalised response - learning their name and their customer journey to-date is a great place to start.
2. Don’t forget to listen
When you feel wronged and let down a common response is to vent - and a citizen communicating with government is no different. Sure, their manner of communicating may be perceived as angry, flustered, irritable and sometimes even just plain wrong. Allow them to have this outlet and make sure you don’t switch off. Listen to them. Understanding where they are coming from goes a long way in defusing the situation and maintaining an excellent 'customer' experience. Dismissing their feelings as irrational or misinformed will only make things worse.
3. Don’t beat around the bush
When things are going wrong it may make for a peaceful life to tell the service user otherwise. Whilst this may temporally save the situation, when they find out (which they will) that you weren’t exactly being honest, you relationship will be damaged, as will your reputation for delivery. Remember this isn’t about things being easy for you - this is about the end user, so tell the truth. Communicate as honestly and as straightforwardly as you can and explain how you are going to fix the problem that is occurring. Citizens live in the real world and know things go wrong sometimes, but what they don’t expect is to be lied to.
4. Don’t fail to learn from your mistakes
Once an issue has been resolved and the citizen is happy again it can be very tempting to swiftly move on and forget the whole thing happened. Once that final email as been sent or the phone has been put down take time to reflect on what has occurred. Why did this happen? How can you prevent this from happening again? Make the best of a bad situation and learn from your mistakes.
5. Don’t be inconsistent
There is nothing worse than being passed from department-to-department and having to re-explain your problem again and again. Make sure you have the systems and processes in place to ensure that you have a single-view of the citizen, as much as is (legally) possible. Citizen experience does not only apply to the traditional ‘citizen-facing roles’ - every employee is a CX representative for your organisation and it is key that you are all on the same page.