Effective Customer Service Program
Tips For Successfully Handling Customer Service Issues
Customer service complaints are a part of the territory when you deal with the public. There are many reasons why you may receive a complaint; but in the final analysis, the reasons inevitably involve an unreasonable expectation of some sort or some type of miscommunication. Most issues can be successfully resolved if you employ the customer service program tips outlined in this article, which allows you to stop, look, listen then act with effective consequences.
Stop and let the customer tell you in his or her own words the problem, as they perceive it. Observe the emotions and attitudes being exhibited as well as the environment and surrounding. Actively listen to understand and make the customer feel heard and respected. With these factors included in your mind-set and thinking, you can proceed to act in effectively handling the problem, with the results being a satisfied loyal customer.
Five tips to helping you bring successful resolution to customer service issues.
� Actively Listen
� Clarify to get understanding
� Acknowledge something happen
� Resolve it
� Advance the relationship forward
Listening allows you to understand the matter from the customer's perspective, right or wrong. You get to share their thoughts, feeling, emotions and possibly have them even recommend a feasibly resolution, without charge. In many cases this is all that is required to bring a successful resolution to some situations. There was a simply misunderstanding on someone part. The customer or sales associate allowed their emotions or irrational reasoning to guide their judgment, so tension was created or it somehow became personal verses staying in the business arena. It is now on your desk and you have to resolve it in the best interest of the customer and company.
Treat your customers with respect; listening is an excellent example of showing your concern, compassion and respect. The customer will perceive that you and your company care when you take the time to listen to their concern. In some instances it will be a legitimate issue your company needs to address. In other cases, it maybe the wrong day, the wrong time, or the wrong people! Just like mixing fuel with flames, an accident waiting to happen.
Listening to your customer gives them an opportunity to release some steam and get the heat off their chest. After the customer has had an opportunity to vent, it can become a no harm, no foul situation or let us just forgive and possibly forget, then move on with our lives! Learn from the experience as a business and company. Once a mutual solution is reached, everyone usually fells better for the experience. The act of listening will allow you to take inventory of the way you do business and possibly clear up some policies or procedures that are outdated or could be deemed confusing and/ or misleading.
Clarifying the issues gives you an opportunity to understand the problem and factors that lead to the matter being an issue that requires your attention. Think about it for a moment, how or why would you fix something you didn't know or think was wrong or broken. Investing time and patience to understand the problem and factors that created the problem is time well spent. This is your chance to right a wrong or lay the foundation for building a lifetime relationship. You need to be clear of the issues before you can intelligently act on the matter.
Next, acknowledge there is an issue. This is not a time to point blame. It makes no difference whose fault it was. Something is broken! You have to fit it. If you haven't acknowledged anything being wrong, why are you encouraged to correct anything? Point being, you would not be face to face or in a communication fist-ti-cuff (whether verbal or written) if everything was hunky-dory. There is a problem, and it needs your attention.
Once you acknowledge it you can then determine what level of management to direct the matter for resolution.
In many cases the customer will have already told you how they want to see the problem handled. As earlier stated, the matter could be as simple as one created by a misunderstanding in communications or an unreasonable expectations from the customer. A simple apology, shake hands and everyone walks away with the problem solved.
I'm not an advocate of retaining all of my customers. A very small percent of customers in the marketplace are mean, rude and/ or criminal. Some customers maintain a nothing will ever please them attitude. Others are intent on ripping you off from the moment they walk through your doors or click on your website. They only bought your product or service to use it and refund it, criminal behavior at its finest!
This being said, the vast majority of customers are honest and reasonable people. Without them there would be no reason to be in business. Your mission statement should include existing, as a business to serve your customers wants needs and desires. This attitude will allow you to seek resolutions that are perceived as reasonable and equitable in your customer's eyesight. It also allows you to maximize the revenue potential of the relationship and not get blinded by the glitter of pennies. Penny-wise and pound-foolish is not a good revenue model for long-term business success.
Some customer relationships need to be ended before they begin. DBF, Dead Before Arrival. It is best for all parties if you never meet to do business. You don't like them, they don't like you, and it is not a good fit for either party. One excellent reason to end these toxic relationships early is they can literally suck your energy and time, which will take away creatively juices from other areas of your business. Look at the long-term impact to your company and make adjustments for the grief you will experience in accepting business from this category of customers.
There are some dollars and some customers your business could do better without. The costs don't justify the benefits. Then there are those times when you have to make a decision that is in the best interest of the customer, company and future business relationships. It is so very important to understand the lifetime value of your customer to be able to apply this last tip with sound judgment. It is a skill to knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.
Finally, remember it cost 5 - 10 times more to get a new customer than to retain an existing client. A loyal customer is likely to refer others to your product or service for years to come. With that said, you can see why it would be logical to work to advance the relationship forward in successfully resolving customer service issues. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting; there was an issue, it got out of control and created a mess between your company and the client. You step up to the plate and make the client feel important, whole and respected.
Bonus points! The client is happy and tells their friends and associates that your company has integrity and values their business. All because of five simple techniques that demonstrate you care: Listen, Clarify, Acknowledge, Resolve and Advance.
Bottom-line; remember you are dealing with another human being. Somewhere there was a breakdown in communications or they failed to get what they expected. Either way, be willing to listen to them; understand the issues involved; recommend viable solutions that benefit all parties and work to move your relationship with the customer to an even higher level in your clients mind. Your customer's perception is their reality, it must be changed or bad-will will continue to persist. The next time a customer complains, remember this could be a wonderful opportunity to make a new friend along with a loyal customer.