Let’s face it,?? all companies experience an unhappy customer from time to time. Often such issues are revealed in formal customer satisfaction surveys. Other times, customers express their dissatisfaction directly (or subtly) to the company. Regardless, it’s likely the situation calls for a conversation between the customer and the account manager or a more senior member of management. The following tips will help your front-line representative bring the problem to a successful resolution:
Deal with an issue as soon as possible: Immediately address the dissatisfaction with the customer so the issue doesn’t fester into a more serious problem,?? even if you only sense something might be wrong.
Listen intently and show respect for your customer’s opinion: Whether the customer’s dissatisfaction is justified or not, it’s important to express empathy. You are not agreeing or disagreeing with the complaint itself, but rather listening with concern and acknowledging their opinion. This helps diffuse their frustration or anger.
Summarize the situation to show your understanding: Once the customer has finished expressing the problem, briefly and specifically re-state the main points using some of the customer’s exact words. Give the customer a chance to correct or add to your summary.
If you are wrong, admit it,?? and apologize: If you or someone at your company has made a mistake, don’t hesitate to admit and apologize for it. Often times a client will feel much better simply after receiving a sincere apology. Avoid over-explaining why the mistake happened,?? very few excuses are acceptable to a customer who is depending on you.
If a customer has made a mistake, be very careful about calling attention to it: It’s seldom a good idea to directly tell a customer he or she is wrong. If it’s important to talk about the customer’s mistake in order to resolve the situation, begin with a phrase like: “I just want to make sure we work out all the steps in the process so this doesn’t happen again.”
Develop a plan to meet the customer’s expectations,?? jointly if possible: Establish a healthy dialogue with your customer as you work together to resolve the issue. This will help you effectively resolve future issues that may arise.
Agree on next steps and set a follow-up date: By agreeing on what’s going to happen next and when, the customer is assured he or she has been heard.
Regardless of the situation, don’t ever,?? we repeat, ever,?? abandon the customer, interrupt, get defensive or act flip, pass the buck, make promises you can’t keep, respond with anger or emotion, or give cause for further irritation. Any of these behaviors will only make a bad situation worse.