If you own a business, whether it’s consumer-based or a B2B, you will come into contact with customers of all kinds and, at times, your customer service skills will be put to the test. Whether you handle irate customers on a regular basis or you only get the once-in-a-blue-moon angry customer, it is important that you have the ability to handle these clients effectively.
Here are 5 simple suggestions for effective customer service.
Listen. Give the customer an opportunity to speak and explain why they are upset. If possible, repeat back to them important details to evidence that you are listening to them and are understanding why they are unhappy. If they are irritable and harsh, it is important to remember that it is most likely not personal to you and they just want someone to vent their frustrations to.
Apologize. Even if the fault was not your (or your company’s) own, simply apologize for the experience the customer had. Simply stating something along the lines of, “I’m really sorry for your experience with us…” does not mean that you are acknowledging fault, but rather, you are expressing sympathetic words of comfort to help smooth over the situation.
Troubleshoot. If appropriate, offer to troubleshoot and possible resolutions to the problem. And even if you do not have any readily available, offer to research the matter or take it to a higher level of management, if necessary, to resolve the matter. When offering up suggestions to resolve the matter, saying something along the lines of, “I understand how you feel and I would have felt the same way in your situation. What I have found is…” Using this “Feel, Felt, Found” technique can help customers feel that they are being heard and that you are relating to their experience and then you are relaying a remedy that you know of to better the situation.
Follow Through. If you don’t know the answer and need to get back to the customer, be sure to set a reasonable timeframe to get back to the customer (within 24-48 hours) and calendar reminders to follow up with action items required to properly follow through with the situation. In the event that you don’t have a response from someone you may be waiting from or the kind of resolution you were hoping to have, still check in with the customer to give them a status update.
Ask. When all else fails, ask the customer, “What can I do to make this better?” Put the ball in their court to come up with the resolution about how to better this situation and do your best to try and accommodate their request. In asking a customer this, it takes the focus less on the emotional aspect of the problem and forces them to consider what they need to make it better.
When put into practice, these 5 simple customer service techniques can make the difference between keeping or losing a customer. And remember, a happy customer is the best source of repeat income and even new customer referrals, so think of it as a means of keeping and even growing your business!