Satisfying Customer Needs and Expectations
Happy Customers are the backbone of your business.
No firm or company, even a small one, can have complete control on products and services it offers. In these days of mass communication, the public you deal with grows larger and larger, which is in itself, good for your business. Large numbers foster growth, and that means you get more good customers . . . . .and also more of the hard-to-please ones as well.
Some customers can, if unhappy with your service, create much time-consuming drama, and bad publicity.
Cost of acquiring a new customer: 6 to 7 times more than keeping existing ones.
You, as the top Customer Service Officer [CSO] need the skills and the creativity to ensure smooth handling of an unhappy customer. Your task is to find the win/win solution; to greet an unhappy customer, and with skill and empathy say goodbye to the same customer knowing s/he will be back. A tough call? Yes. It can be done, and it is done every day all over the globe.
Peter Kriss is a Senior Research Scientist at Medallia and the Director of Research for Vision Prize. In Harvard Business Review he sets out the value of good Customer Services in clear, diagram fashion.
How to start off at an advantage
You, as the CSO, needs to be fast, and of keen eye. The quicker you get to an unhappy customer, the easier it is going to be able to [mentally] congratulate yourself with “Yup! Another win/win”.
Keep an eye out on the shop, on your phone messages, tweets, emails and other form of contact that you provide. Be quick to get back to that customer, and you have earned many brownie points already.
How to recognize an angry customer.
How would you spot such a customer ?
Escalation in voice, posture, frowning when dealing face to face. On paper, you see many exclamation marks , writing in capitals or larger writing, sometimes being rude and abusive etc. ..
This person might start off by speaking / writing in the normal fashion, but you will notice that soon, the voice will escalate, the words become clipped, and the angry words will ‘sound’ angrier and louder, the words on paper may now be all in capital letters – LARGE capitals! There is no mistaking the intention of the customer. S/he is angry and they want you to know it.
Dealing with an angry customer.
You may feel like you’d rather crawl under a rock. You’ve had enough to handle in that one day, so you think you can just send a polite email to your angry customer, and surely that should be ok!
It might be. But you will get scant satisfaction from that exercise and the company will still have likely lost a customer.
Emails are fine, after the problem is solved. Then it is time to put the important points on paper for you and the customer to remember.
Your customer doesn’t care how much you know
until they know how much you care
~ Damon Richards
What to say to an angry customer.
- Thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. How else are you going to bring your company to the No 1 ranking, if you do not know what problems you need to resolve? So there is genuine cause for thanks.
- Apologize to the customer for the problem s/he has encountered AND assure her/him that you will do your utmost to help her/him.
- After that, listen to what the customer has to say with both ears and with your mind focused squarely on what is being said. Only interrupt your customer, if absolutely essential.
- When your customer takes a long pause, ask whether there is more to tell, and if not, then and only then, ask any question/s you may have.
- Mentally check the When, Where, What & How. If necessary ask questions to clarify the situation before you attempt to resolve it. Group your questions in a categorized fashion so that you avoid confusion in your customer’s mind. Be very wary how you couch questions, and sometimes it might be savvy to make a statement – instead of a direct question - and wait for a reaction, to avoid giving your customer the feeling of an interrogation.
- Find out WHAT your customer is expecting you to do. Do they want a refund, an exchange, an apology, a token gift? What would send that customer home happy, or at the very least, mollified?
How would you respond to your customer's complaint?
Win/Win is possible.
- Rem: You are not the target of the customer's anger, so brush that aside.
- Focus on the message, on the reason your customer is angry. If necessary you may need to work at unraveling the core issue.
- Tell your customer that you will do all possible to help him/her.
- Do all in the power of your role to resolve the issue.
- Confirm with your Customer whether s/he is happy with the resolution.
- Remember to end the conversation with saying that you hope s/he will do business with you again in future.
Mentally pat your back for a job well done. As well as was possible.
No one can ask for more of you - not even you!
A round-up from an expert in the field.
© 2015 MarieLB