No matter how good your product or service is, and how loyal your buyers might be, no one should ever completely relax about the importance of customer service. We all want our customers to love us, and let’s face it, no one goes to work to do a bad job, but the truth is, at some point you’re going to get something wrong.
So when the unthinkable happens, what should you do, and how can you steer your precious relationships back to a safe and happy place. Great customer service isn’t always about doing the right thing, sometimes it’s about doing the right thing about the wrong thing.
First things first, let them tell you their complaint. Before jumping in to defend your business you need to execute priorities carefully. First let them speak, then seek to understand. Customer service is about the customer, not you, so let them vent, scream or whatever they need to do in order to get their complaint out. It’s not personal. Listen carefully, sift through the information to build a picture of what when wrong and why. Be prepared to silently rearrange what the customer is telling you about what happened since most people will react incoherently when they are cross about something. Give them time to get everything off their chest.
Never try to avoid an angry customer, always pick up the phone and speak to them rather than email. Putting the human element in your customer service will help defuse the situation.
When you’re sure the customer has finished speaking, apologise. A sincere apology is absolutely always helpful when customer service falls short. Insincere half apologies are not. “I’m sorry you feel that way” is not an apology, it’s distancing yourself from the issue and putting the blame in the customer’s corner suggesting they and their emotions are somehow to blame.
Don’t react to their anger, and certainly don’t allow any irritation on your part to seep into your voice. When they’ve come down off the ceiling, try to gently probe, so you fully understand the problem. Don’t be surprised if you restoke the fire, again just let them offload. At this point, you’re looking to get all their anger out so you can start dealing with the problem. They’ll feel much better once they’ve had the chance to let off steam.
Do something nice
When you completely understand the problem, tell your customer what you’d like to do to remedy the situation. In some instances you may feel your process wasn’t to blame, or the issue wasn’t caused by a fault on the part of your business, however it’s important you don’t divert responsibility. Gently offer an explanation and some means to avoid a repetition.
Doing something nice will help win customer service brownie points. If it’s appropriate for a discount or a gesture towards their next purchase will demonstrate your commitment. If that’s not appropriate, think about ways you can win trust and respect. For example, calling them at an agreed time to make sure the problem has been properly resolved, or speaking to anyone else involved in the supply chain to check they have the right details to avoid reoccurrence.
It’s long been understood that customers who are happy with the way a complaint has been dealt with become more loyal than before their grievance happened. For customer service managers, this presents a valuable opportunity to uncover bugbears and improvement opportunities without the costly need for market research. According to business insurance giants Simply Business, dealing with customer complaints can be a business owner’s worst nightmare. But with lots of attention and creative thinking, you can turn them into a great opportunity.