Customer service is a main proponent in the success or even downfall of a business. The relationship between you and the customer is symbiotic - you're providing a service and the customer is paying you a fee for the services you provide.
The customer and the seller need each other, but there are some instances where you may be ready to say "good riddance".
Before coming to the good riddance conclusion, there are things you can do to try to avoid disgruntled customers. There are also things you can do after the customer is already unhappy.
In this post, you'll get tips to help avoid unhappy customers and ways to diffuse situations where the customer is already dissatisfied. These practices take some discipline, but keeping your overall goal in mind is what will help get you through these tough issues.
CUSTOMER SERVICE ON THE PHONE
TAKE A BREATH
If your ear is being attacked by the customer on the other end, you may instinctively want to respond with the same energy. Unfortunately, this is the worst possible response you can give, and it'll cause more problems than it solves.
Taking a deep breath will give you time to calm down and breath. You may have to ask the customer to hold for a couple of seconds, or you may have to put your hand over the receiver to keep the caller on the other end from hearing you.
With the receiver covered or while the customer is on hold, breath in for 10 seconds, and slowly blow out the breath - relax your body while doing so.
This may not seem like much, but it gives you time to clear your head. With a cool head, you're able to make better decisions and give better responses. Not taking a breath at the beginning of the conversation can cause a uproar up at the end.
Really listen to the customers' issue. When you listen to a customer, most times you can empathize with their position. Even if you've never dealt with the exact situation, you may have had to deal with a similar one in the past.
Use your own experience to relate to the customer and their concern. If all else fails "act" empathetic. Even if you completely disagree with the principle of the customers' argument - acting in a concerned way makes the customer feel heard, and they're more likely to be willing to resolve the issue without too much push back.
UNDERSTAND YOUR TONE & WEAR A SMILE
Have you ever heard the phrase "it's not what you say, it's how you say it?"...well, this statement is very true, especially when conducting customer service. A tone that sounds angered, rushed, or annoyed comes across whether you're actually talking to the customer or if you're corresponding via email.
Of course there are days when we don't necessarily feel like dealing with unhappy customers, but regardless of how we "feel", it's not wise to take this out on the customer as it's bad for the business' brand and reputation.
In order to take note of your tone, place a mirror on your desk or work area. Seeing your reflection will remind you to "smile". A smile on your face when talking on the phone makes you sound more pleasant, even if you don't necessarily feel that way. This is a good trick to help you remember to "wear a smile" when talking on the phone.
Note: If you work for a call center or you're on a schedule for calling customers, it's pretty impossible to avoid a customer that doesn't want to be contacted (meaning you'll have to speak with someone that has no interest on speaking with you and they show this via their conversation energy).
Unfortunately, you may not be able to avoid the conflict, but you can use the steps mentioned above to help diffuse it.
CUSTOMER SERVICE VIA EMAIL
NO "CLICK CLACK" RESPONSES
This is a made up term, but essentially, your initial reaction to an unsettling email should not be to start typing right away. If you come across this type of email, stop, take a breath and read the email slowly.
When dealing with the customer that starts off with angry correspondence, you want to be sure to answer any and all questions as thoroughly, and as quickly as possible. Be polite, yet direct - It's best to nip this type of correspondence in the bud. Avoid back-and-forth responses to a customer that's looking for an argument - It can get ugly quickly and there will be a paper trail to prove it.
YOUR EMAIL TONE
As stated earlier, your tone sends an impression to the customer and as hard as it may be to believe, tone is sent over email as well.
It may seem like you're interacting with a faceless, voiceless customer, but remember, there is a customer on the other end. You want your email messages to seem as understanding and as empathetic as your phone conversations.
Keep a cool head when typing and read what you've typed before sending it. When reading the email back to yourself, it's easier to note when there's a tinge of animosity in the message.
BEFORE THE ISSUE | EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE
READ & READ AGAIN
Sometimes when reading emails we have a tendency to "skim" the message. Though this may seem like an efficient way to get to the point, this also leaves the chance of important information being omitted and can cause a misunderstanding of what's actually being asked.
When responding via email, be sure to read the entire message and re-read it to ensure that you've captured all the information requested by the customer. Responding to emails with insufficient or non-pertinent data may cause more of an issue than the initial problem caused.
START WITH A SALUTATION
Your greeting doesn't have to be a lovey dovey transmittance, but it should be pleasant. Starting your email with "Hello Mr/Mrs..." or "Hi Mr/Mrs..." is sufficient. Also be sure to end your emails with "Thank you". These practices show respect to the customer and when someone feels respected they're more receptive if issues arise and they are more likely to be a return customer.
HAVE A QUICK RESPONSE TIME
If you're a solo or entrepreneur, balancing life and business can get hectic and things can be missed. Try to respond to your customers within a 24 hour time period.
Customers do understand that small businesses can get busy, but they also do not want to feel ignored. Remember that customers are your source of income, you don't want to sever relationships by being inattentive.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
THIS IS YOUR JOB OR YOUR BUSINESS
We can't control how others act, but we can remember what's important. The best thing to do for unnerving emails is to relax and get them out of your mind as soon as possible.
Holding on to the resentful feelings from irate customers on emails and yelling on the phone, will spill over to other customer interactions and can cause the customer to have a bad experience. This is not only unfair to the customer, but will cause loss of business.
MAKE THIS A BEGINNING INSTEAD OF AN ENDING
Try to use all of your correspondence as an opportunity to show your customers the utmost amount of support. When people feel valued, they're more loyal. Everything is not always rainbows and sunshiny days in business, but there are always opportunities to find the silver lining.
Thank you for visiting,