Customer Service: Dealing With An Upset Customer

The real test of your internal processes, people's competence, training and culture will be during a situation where a Customer actually makes known a complaint or a gripe.

Imagine a Customer as a kettle full of boiling water.

The growing sentiment of the Customer is the flame underneath the kettle. Picture the Customer's patience as the steam building up inside the kettle.

Your approach to the Customer complaint is like your hand on the stove slowly turning the temperature between 30 degrees to 100 degrees Celsius.

You Are Dealing With A Human Being
Even the best products or services delivered by the most impeccable Customer service program will hit a snag in one way or another in a matter of time.

The human factor of any system will always be its weakest link.

Look, your only human.

It could be your fault or the Customer's fault. The Customer is most certainly human too.

It doesn't matter.

In the end it's the Customer's sentiment that will dictate the course of action.

The Tension First, Information Later
Obviously, the action to take if someone is about to blow up is to let off some pressurized steam.

Let the Customer do the talking.

This is where body language comes in.

You must maintain eye contact always. Nod to show affirmation and respond with an affirmative expression from time to time.

There's always this temptation to "label" customer or fall into stereotyping. Such a trap can be disabling if you are the very person who is supposed to find out more about the problem and take action later.

The frequently forgotten but important action is empathy.

Your Customer must feel that you understand his or her situation and how he or she feels about it.

Your attention, your facial expression and your confirmation must all say that you do understand and you do care.

Now The Problem
Once you have confirmed with your Customer the situation, you must now initiate a proactive approach to solving the problem.

If you have a process that can be activated to resolve the issue then go ahead and explain how the process works.

If not, you may have to tell him again about his situation to confirm to him you have taken notes and you understood his narration.

Check the facts and refer the issue to the people who can take action or make a decision on the matter.

The Solution And The Action
If you and the Customer have agreed what the facts and the issues are, it is now time to come to an agreement on the best action to take.

Confirm with the Customer how he wants the issue resolved. Present possible solutions or courses of action.

The Customer must confirm if the possible outcome of the solution or course of action is acceptable.

You need to be dependable and reliable. You must keep your promise.

Follow up and keep the Customer informed.

Make sure all the concerned parties are informed and updated.

Deliver.

If possible do more and exceed expectations.

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