Receiving calls from dissatisfied customers is never easy, but great customer service can always turn the situation around. Think of complaint calls as chances to not only exercise customer handling skills, but also to further sell the business to the customers.
It sounds tricky, but it’s actually fairly easy to do when one has the right customer service approach. Having been both a customer service representative and a dissatisfied customer at one point or another, I’ve learned that there are five things a customer service representative should remember in order to win that customer back:
1. Listen well. Listening is essential to addressing customer complaints because a) this helps properly identify the problem, and b) this helps identify the customer’s other possible needs. Once these things have been identified, it will be easier to offer a solution and a plan of action.
2. Be patient. Angry customers may have a tendency to be long-winded or even incoherent, so patience is key. Interrupting a customer or sounding impatient would make the caller even angrier, so allow the customer to get it out of his system. If necessary, ask questions that would gently lead the customer towards telling you what the problem is. Patience helps customers feel like they are actually being heard.
3. Be proactive. Once the problem is identified, don’t just tell the customer that something is going to be done to solve it. Inform the customer of the solution, or better yet, offer a plan of action. Without having to go through all the details, tell the caller what steps are going to be taken to resolve the issue. Informing the customer makes him feel involved in the solution and helps the customer feel at ease.
4. Be honest. Being realistic and honest when offering solutions to customers’ problems is very important. Should they demand a solution that isn’t ideal or possible, inform them what other steps could be taken instead. Making promises to do something just for the sake of placating an irate customer isn’t fair to either the caller or the business; this would possibly cause even more problems.
5. Be sincere. Dissatisfied customers have an uncanny knack of being able to tell whether an apology is heartfelt. Apologizing for any inconvenience caused is the first thing that should be done in handling a customer complaint, and it should be sincere enough to soothe the caller until a solution to the problem is offered. If the customer feels like the apology is half-baked or even fake, this would only fuel the customer’s indignation. Sincerity is important to the entire call handling process “” no amount of customer service training can help a representative if he isn’t willing to help the customers.
A well-handled call not only addresses customer complaints and solves customers’ problems, but it also assures the customers that their concerns and satisfaction are important. Nobody’s perfect, not even the best of businesses, but a well-cared for customer is a happy customer, and this is the key to ensuring customer loyalty.
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