Customer Service Problems in Business.
Case Study unit 354 Monitor and Solve Customer Service Problems Business problems can come In all shape and sizes as they can be very different from one another they require many different approaches to resolve them. Some may even cause wider- spreading problems which disrupt the whole business. But they will all require some aspect of decision making and a variety of approaches can be used solve problems. The result of a business problem can have a positive or negative effect on the business. Our business is built around routine daily, weekly, monthly or yearly Jobs.
When business problems upset a routine, especially In our line of work they have cost Implications some of which can be serious. Every business tries to avoid this. The cause of a business problem can be varied and many. Two main factors of business problems can come from ‘Uncontrolled Change’ and ‘Controlled Change’. Uncontrolled Change- is a problem that is caused but outside the control of the business. The business takes a reactive role in Identify what the business problem Is and how best It can be resolved.
These changes could come through changes In Government Impacting on policy; legislation; environment; social upheaval; technology etc. Controlled Changes- this occurs as a result of a business re-evaluation of an existing strategy or plan of work. These changes can come from within the business itself. E. G. The effects of changes to other parts of a business that are looking at ways of becoming leaner, or from outside the organization, e. G. Deciding to launch a new product ahead of schedule when it hears that a competitor is about to launch the same product.
Each of these changes will upset the established routine for the work plan. An evaluation will have to take place once the robber is determined, this is to establish the effect of this change and see how much of a problem it may cause the business, and this is so the business can resolve the problem accordingly. This is because it’s important to resolve the problem as soon as possible to avoid further impact on the business/organization. A business problem will tend to maximize waste.
One of the alms of business Is to minimize waste through effective routine work. Approach the business problem with confidence and a desire to spend time and effort Into find the appropriate solution to the problem. I find that brainstorming or writing the business problem down, forces me to think about all the issues that need resolving as well as the possible impact the resolution may have on other areas of the business or even my own workload. I feel this method helps promote a free flow of ideas and makes it easier and possibly quicker to resolve.
A relaxed environment Is crucial when resolving business Issues, however In our business environment this Isn’t always accessible and can mean the problem doesn’t get resolved quick enough. Analyzing the situation carefully before greening to a solution is extremely important, as immediate solutions can be obvious or knee-jerking solution may be highly inappropriate. Solutions can be expensive and time-consuming, so it would be prudent to make sure they are going to work and are most appropriate solutions to carry out. Housing Benefit for a wide range of accommodation.
One of the biggest forms of rental properties in our area are those rented through Housing Associations. Housing Associations increase the rent every April to meet economic inflation, this can be a very busy period for us as customer informs us of their changes and we eve hundreds of claims that must be updated before our end of year annual billing, which is normally mid-March. To assist us with the massive increase in work load around this time we contacted each Housing Association we deal with in our area and asked them to produce us with one excel spreadsheet detailing all the rent increases, including service charges.
This was so one officer could then work through the whole spreadsheet. We found before we implemented this procedure some customers would inform us of changes, other would inform us late or in some cases we never received information of any rent increase. We found we couldn’t keep an accurate record of the claims we had updated and those that still needed to be updated. By using the spreadsheets we then had a permanent record of the claims we had updated.
Each Housing Association was given a specialist designated officer, during this transition to deal with them as their personal liaison officer; this meant if there were any problems someone was accountable to resolve the issues and ensure the Housing association and customers’ needs were being met. This earned trust and a good reputation from both the Housing associations and the customers. Swan Housing Association Rent Increase 2013 Spreadsheet At first the new procedure seemed to be working effectively, customers responded positively as they could see we were trying to improve the services we provided.
In August 2013, I was approached on reception by a customer who I will refer to in this case study as Mrs. S. During our first encounter everything seemed very normally Mrs. S was informing me her Daughter had moved in and she was aware this may affect her benefit. As Mrs. S herself had recently started work she was extremely concerned that changing her benefit would cause her to have rent arrears or receive her benefit ate. At the time I took all the information and to ensure Mrs. S fully understood the financial changes she was about to face, I amended her claim and explained her new entitlement while she was here on reception.
We try as much as possible to assess changes while the customer is here on their first visit, this is because it reduces footfall in reception or follow up calls or enquiries because the customer doesn’t understand. At this point I thought this was the end of this matter. I had dealt with the first enquiry and Mrs. S had left reception happy and confident she understood. I let I had delivered good customer service. Several weeks later Mrs. S returned to reception asking for me personally, she stated that she felt the calculation I had done maybe wrong as she had since received a letter from her Housing Association stating she was in arrears.
This is something as benefit officers we face a lot, customer often think we have made mistakes if they don’t feel we are paying enough benefit, it’s important not to take this personally and look into their enquiry and if there has During this next meeting with Mrs. S we went through all her claim checking every ululation and payment. This was important to do as it wasn’t Just me that had updated this claim in the past; many other officers had done calculations on the claim.
I couldn’t find an issue with payments and in fact couldn’t determine where the arrears had come from. From our system we had been meeting the full rent until her daughter moved in, she was aware after her daughter moved in she wasn’t getting her full rent and would need to make a top up, which she had done. By the information we had on our system the customer shouldn’t have been in any arrears. As she was very concerned I offered to email her Housing Association directly and inform them we felt we were paying full rent and they may want to check the records they have.
I never received any reply from them and proceed to try and call the Housing Association, which didn’t bring me any success as I kept leaving messages and no one would return my call. On the 1st September Mrs. S returned to reception again this time very distressed, she had been sent an eviction letter from a rent collection officer at her Housing Association, who for this case study will be named Miss T. As Miss T had supplied a direct contact telephone and email address on the eviction notice I contacted her immediately while Mrs. S was still with me in reception.
Miss T was out of the office at this time, which was very frustrating as no one else from her office would deal with my enquiry or give me any information, I couldn’t resolve the issue then and there and was relying on Miss T returning my attempts to contact her and this meant Mrs. S would have to leave reception with her enquiry still not being dealt with. Unlike Mrs. S first visit I could see she was leaving the office unhappy and still very distressed and concerned. I felt I had not delivered the best customer service that we normally stride for as an organization but this was no fault of my own.
Finally on the 3rd September I received an email from Miss T stating she would be away from the office until the 9th September and didn’t have time to deal with my enquiries before she went away. I found it extremely unprofessional how she couldn’t give me a call and explain this as now Mrs. S was growing progressively more unhappy and frustrated. She was very stressed and worried as the eviction twice still loomed. She explained how she was beginning to feel that neither us nor her Housing Association were willing to help, passing the buck between each organization.
I felt our organization reputation was being damaged by another company who didn’t follow the high levels of customer service and satisfaction that we aim to provide. To ensure I preserved Mrs. S trust in me and the Council as an organization I took it upon myself to ensure I kept her completely update, every time I had a reply from Miss T I made sure I called Mrs. S straight away to inform her. I Egan to earn her trust as she could see our organization was doing as much as humanly possible to help her.
By the beginning of October both Myself and Mrs. S had now made several failed attempts to contact Miss T and the issue was still unresolved. For us as a Council and Business this was completely unacceptable. Mrs. S came into reception to inform me they had sent her a new rent increase, which was normal for this time of year for that particular Housing Association. It was on the 2nd October that I contacted Miss T to inform her I wasn’t happy to accept the new rent increase as we still had outstanding issues. Miss T again was unavailable so I equally experienced who could resolve the issue then and there.
I insisted I wasn’t happy to keep calling and Mrs. T Just ignore my calls or messages. I was very assertive in what I wanted and needed and highlighted the distress they were causing our customer. The lady I spoke to during this occasion confirmed that ‘Swan’ the Housing Association Mrs. S was with had actually sent us incorrect information on the annual spreadsheet. They had given us a higher amount of rent, when checking this lady actually confirmed there were no rent arrears and the eviction notice had also been an error on their part.
I had to amend the rental amount we used in the calculation back for about two year, which caused a large overpayment on the claim, this added to the stress and worry Mrs. S was already under and this was not due to any fault of her own. On this understanding I contacted her Housing Association in writing informing them that we as a courteous gesture to Mrs. S, we had written off all the overpayment and now adjusted her claim correctly. In this letter I did highlight all the customer service issues I had received with their company, when trying to solve an issue in a hope that will review their working practices.
I immediately informed my Line Manger of the mistake the Housing Association had made, as we then needed to check every claim that they had given us rental amounts for, to ensure that they were in fact correct. By doing this we highlighted several claims that needed further investigation, and were in fact incorrect. We have now informed the Housing Association of the importance in making sure the information they send us is correct and the possibly implications on their customers if they provide us with incorrect information.
After the experience Mrs. S did thank me for all the effort I had put in trying to resolve her problems. She now trusts me completely and if she ever has to inform us of anything she now request for me personally. We are again now facing that time of year again, April when all the rent increase come. We are already forwarding thinking and planning to avoid any further disruption to our customers. To do this we have to ensure that our planning and the practices we put in place can not only deal with the increase in work load and manage any issues we have along the way.
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