I was interested to read the article on this site about a person losing their first clients. From experience working with both small business and international corporations around customer service and communications skills, one of the keys to customer satisfaction are how you handle client problems.
Attribution: Flickr - Ron
So what to do when there is a customer issue.
When a customer is upset or angry the first thing to do is apologise. Now of course there are many ways to apologise without accepting blame or fault.
Attribtuion: Flickr - butupa
%%I am sorry to hear that you are having a problem**
is better than
%%I am sorry that our product has a problem**
Be aware of course that the customer probably doesn't just want an apology they want something done about the problem so apologies should be quick and to the point so you can move on to something else. The apology is the essential starting point.
2. Listen and ask questions
The next stage is to learn more about the problem. Some customer service people will even insist that no such problem could even exist. Whether that is true or not it can just be a matter of noting down all the issues the customer is experiencing.
Remember listening is not just a passive activity but you should also practice active listening by asking the right sort of questions and repeating back what was said for confirmation.
This is the most important step. More than an apology most people would like to be understood and that this understanding should go beyond the facts to how they are feeling.
Attribution: Flickr - Sean MacEntee
Show them that you empathise with the problem that they are having by using phrases such as.
I understand that this problem is frustrating for you
4. Assure: Make a positive statement
You can't always fix a problem but any assurance will make the customer feel better. So don't make any promises that you can't keep but be prepared to say something positive.
Attribution: Pixabay - PublicDomainImages
If you can tell me all your details I can start working on this problem right away
is better than
I will fix this problem right away
Even if you are not the person who will solve the problem you can say something along the lines of
I will pass it on to our level 2 team and then should get back to you within 24 hours, if you don't hear anything or they are unable to solve your problem please give me a call
I can't believe that there are people working in customer service who will say things like.
I can't fix your problem as it is not my job before then saying they will pass it on to someone else.
5. Go the extra step
When problems occur and you really want to keep a client, be prepared to go to the extra step to ensure that they problem is solved. This can be as simple as a follow-up phone call to determine if the problem was solved to their satisfaction.
Other options include partial refunds or discount offers for further purchases.
Does this make a difference?
I remember training some people in the concierge department of a 5 star hotel. During the followup weeks later I asked what they liked about the training they said "Tips have improved". Better customer service skills meant happier customers who were prepared to tip more.
Unless you want to lose customers and be shouted at every day, customer service skills and this problem solving process are essential.
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