After all we know that sometimes customers:
- Don’t read the fine print
- Don’t think the rules apply to them
- Cause the problem then get mad at you for the problem
- Can be unreasonable
- Can be dishonest
- And on and on and on and on
Well you could try but then you still have ‘Harold’ standing in the middle of your office, or the sales floor, wondering why he can’t “speak to the manager!”
So what can you do...or what can you encourage your teams to do to manage these situations? After being in contact with thousands of people during my career, I have isolated FOUR effective things that people can do when someone complains.
Help the customer feel important:
The most important “people-skill” that I believe all of us should learn is how to make other people feel important. If you are able to make an unhappy customer feel important, you will go a long way towards resolving any issues, even before you get to resolving the issue.
I cannot tell you how many times I spoke with people who just needed to vent and feel as if they were important enough to be heard. And even when I couldn’t give these people what they asked for, I still got lots of “thank yous” and even some apologies after I took the time to make sure they felt important.
Remember it’s not a battle:
One of the most common mistakes that associates make is approaching a customer complaint as if it were a battle to be won or lost. How many times have you seen this when you’ve lodged a complaint with a company? Don’t you often want to say, “Look I’m not the enemy here, I’m just unhappy about this!”
A battle with a customer is a battle you cannot win, even if you’re right. And the issue shouldn’t be about trying to prove who is “right” and who is “wrong” but how the issue may be resolved.
And the more you fight with a customer, the less important you make them feel . . . which means they will continue to do what they have to do to prove they are important!
Lose the snark-Use some warmth:
When someone has a complaint, she often braces for “impact.” In other words, she expects the associate may give her some grief (especially if the customer secretly knows she was in the wrong), so she is prepared to dish it right back.
Remember that scene in the movie Top Gun when one of the pilots says, “I’m going to guns!” An upset resident is often prepared to go to guns...so when an associate fires a round of snark, the resident is prepared to pull the trigger.
Not the best way to diffuse a situation, huh?
When you’re genuinely warm and sincere with a customer, that can immediately diffuse things. I mean, how can someone argue with, “I’m so sorry. I see that we really fell short and I’d love to see what we can do to help you.”
Look for solutions
As I talked about earlier, associates often see these situations as battles to be won; so the search for solutions takes a back seat to putting the customer in his place. But the truth is, there are always solutions to be found aren’t there?
Sure, sometimes the solutions are not what the customer wanted initially, or what associates were able to do initially...but there are solutions everywhere. You just have to be willing to look for them.
What are your customer service "awesome" and "unawesome" stories?