Seventy-Seven Percent Is Worth the Effort!
I think it’s safe to say that most of us have had to deal with an upset customer at some point in our time in the workforce. It’s not fun. It’s even less fun when we realize it was our employee who caused a royal mess. To make matters even more challenging, not every customer is going to be patient and understanding. Depending on the circumstances and details, it’s not uncommon to be faced with a really mad customer.
How we deal with it can make all the difference in the world.
…and this all points back to leadership. Why? Because we are responsible for ensuring our staff knows how to deal with uncommon situations with an upset customer. It requires us to make sure our employees know how to deal with the human behavior component of customer service. Providing standard training on policies and procedures isn’t enough.
However, sometimes that’s the extent of attention and training provided to our frontline workers or staff who deals directly with our customers. After all, they are generally on the very low end of the totem pole. This also means their pay scale is in alignment with their title.
But that’s just the first step.
It’s unfortunate when a customer service representative or register clerk reacts to an upset customer inappropriately. It’s even more unfortunate to realize that our employee is unable to separate any personal issues she might be experiencing and takes it out on anyone who crosses her path.
Take a Proactive Stance
Just because our front-line workers or employees who deal directly with our customers are at the lower end of the pay scale doesn’t mean the job is less deserving of acute attention proper training.
Quite the contrary.
They are dealing with our customers directly. Day in and day out. Our customers come with all sorts of personalities and behavioral traits and so do our employees.
It’s up to us to ensure our employees possess a healthy degree of patience and a track record of excellent communication skills. It also means they must also possess a healthy degree of soft skills. For those organizational leaders who aren’t already doing so, consideration should be given to continuous improvement opportunities in these specific areas.
Losing a customer can be expensive when we consider the fact that at least 90% of displeased customers will not do business with us again.
How employees deal with customers is a direct reflection of how they are being treated by their management and leaders, too. So this is more important than many leaders want to accept.
Tips for Training Employees to Effectively Deal with a Mistake
- Herein lies where actively listening carries a lot of weight
I know it can be difficult, especially when the customer is upset. Yet, it’s amazing to know that sometimes she just wants to be heard (while you are fixing the problem, of course). Some really easy ways to let the customer know we’re listening include comments such as ‘I can imagine just how frustrating this must be for you’.
- Even when we aren’t necessarily to blame, it’s a good idea to avoid things like ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’
It doesn’t seem genuine because it’s pointing attention at the way we assume the customer feels. We don’t actually know how he feels.
- Paraphrasing is especially helpful in times like this, too
It shows we’re listening and trying to make sure we’ve heard them correctly. Plus, it gives us the chance to make sure we really did hear him correctly. Ending the paraphrased comment with ‘because of [this error]’ can really drive things home.
It can be exceptionally powerful when a customer is mad.
A couple of tips to avoid:
- There is a fine line between making excuses and trying to explain the situation
Nobody wants to hear excuses, especially when we’re a frustrated customer
- It’s not uncommon for people to want to share their own similar stories, in an effort to relate
Avoid doing this because the customer [doesn’t care about what happened to you] and is truly only interested in getting his problem fixed
- Take care of as much of the problem as possible in one sitting
An upset customer doesn’t want to be handed off to another department or told that ‘we’ll look into it and get back to you’. Ensure that your employee can settle enough of the situation so that the customer feels secure that a resolution is coming.
- Remember to thank the customer for giving us the chance to take corrective action
It demonstrates how seriously we are accepting and dealing with the situation. Furthermore, when we have made a mistake with a customer, acted quickly, expressed sincere empathy, and left the customer feeling good about how things were handled, they will actually promote our company. We all know the power of word-of-mouth.
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Somewhere between 70-77% of unhappy customers will do business with us again if we make things right. The ticket is to be sincere. What’s even better news is that ratio rises to 96% when we’ve acted quickly (US Office of Consumer Affairs, 2015). [/message] [su_spacer]
The goal is to take responsibility. This is means taking responsibility for the actions of the company. This may also mean that your management team may be in need of additional support with training their front-line workers, too.