Listen to them – really listen
This seems like common sense to say but very often staff members may not be trained properly on how to show empathy and lend an active listening ear when a customer is voicing an issue. Training focused on empathy, product offerings, and policies along with knowing when to apply them to a customer’s situation should be a key factor of your company training and not just in customer service. Oftentimes firms treat customers who complain as if they are the issue, after the customer has bought their product, and have no interest in hearing a valid complaint. It would be a prudent action to take a sincere interest when someone has a problem. Hear what they are having an issue with. If it is the product, did you miss a timeline that caused a second issue that you are now in a position to offer help with even if it is not in your line of work? For example, you are a flower shop where a customer ordered flowers online for an ill family member and the delivery driver went to the wrong location. The irate customer calls, saying the intended recipient is obviously not at that location but another. Do you listen to hear how you can not only send what they originally requested but also how you can now add value for the person who was set to receive the items because of a missed opportunity? What happens if you are the owner and discover that your staff was rude to the customer? Does the customer have the ability to email you directly so you can address the issue, evaluate it, and provide a resolution?
What will you do to allow your customers to have a direct line into a level above the standard customer service channel into your business? Are they going to have to wait for five levels of a chain of command to get to the right person or will you shorten that time and give them the opportunity to have direct access to someone who is empathic and with enough power in your firm to fix issues that were handled improperly, all while keeping costs and the specific situation in mind. Be mindful of the pandemic having also added levels of frustration they may be carrying that go beyond normal circumstances, and this may be your chance to add some brightness to their lives, despite them not being pleased with their current situation having ordered from you.
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Offer a way for them to suggest changes to any gaps in service
After hearing what their issue is, and you see a path forward on how you can help them, ask to provide their feedback and stay in touch with them if it is an implementation you can effectively execute. You may not be able to do this for every customer that has an issue and reserve the effort for when it presents itself as a gap in your product quality or service. It would be wise to keep their contact info so that if you have numerous complaints about similar issues, you can contact these customers telling them how you are changing or have changed, and thank them for their feedback. Most customers want a good product, service and to be heard knowing they are valued by your company, no matter how small their order may be. Be genuine in your desire to resolve an issue, and not just provide standard responses with no action. When it’s authentic, this effort works and has a better chance of resonating positively in a situation where the lasting impression is of the original exchange having not been done correctly.
Showing care and concern for all your customers’ current and potential matters is a mandate, but extra effort may be justified more for someone who is upset than just those who continue to be loyal customers. Be authentic and act with good intentions, as it will allow for a better methodology for how you handle these situations because you are seeking to address each based on the circumstances. This is why having a top-line executive’s email or contact information could be beneficial to help resolve any lingering frustrations. Most customers are not aware of all that goes into your product or service. When you allow them to offer their suggestions and have an honest two-way conversation about how you are currently doing business, it can build common ground, and provide an understanding that the customer has been heard, you are working on their issue, and open to review and implement any additional suggestions.
Listen and show empathy to your customer base, whether they are satisfied or not, and they may continue to provide actionable intel to you because they know you genuinely care about them, your business, and what you are providing.
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