I'm sure that you always want to provide exceptional service
to both your internal and external customers. However, in the
real world, things go wrong and mistakes are made.
These "customers" will often judge your level of service
based on how you respond to a mistake. Do it well and they'll
probably forgive you and possibly even say positive things about
your business or your abilities to other people.
The important thing to realise when dealing with an upset
customer, be they internal or external, is that you must - deal
with their feelings, then deal with their problem. Upset
customers are liable to have strong feelings when you, your
product or service lets them down and they'll probably want to
"dump" these feeling on you.
You don't deal with their feelings by concentrating on solving
the problem, it takes more. Here are 5 action ideas that deal
with the customers' human needs:
1 - Don't let them get to you - Stay out of it emotionally and
concentrate on listening non-defensively and actively. Customers
may make disparaging and emotional remarks - don't rise to the
2 - Listen - listen - listen - Look and sound like your
listening. The customer wants to know that you care and that
you're interested in their problem.
3 - Stop saying sorry - Sorry is an overused word, everyone says
it when something goes wrong and it's lost its value. How often
have you heard - "Sorry about that, give me the details and I'll
sort this out for you". Far better to say "I apologise for
......" And if you really need to use the sorry word, make sure
to include it as part of a full sentence. "I'm sorry you haven't
received that information as promised Mr Smith". (It's also good
practise to use the customers name in a difficult situation).
4 - Empathise - Using empathy is an effective way to deal with
the customer’s feelings. Empathy isn't about agreement, only
acceptance of what the customer is saying and feeling. Basically
the message is - "I understand how you feel". Obviously this has
to be a genuine response, the customer will realise if you're
insincere and they'll feel patronised.
Examples of empathy responses would be - "I can understand that
you're angry", or "I see what you mean". Again, these responses
need to be genuine.
5 - Build rapport - Sometimes it's useful to add another phrase
to the empathy response, including yourself in the picture. - "I
can understand how you feel, I don't like it either when I'm
kept waiting". This has the effect of getting on the customer's
side and builds rapport. Some customer service people get
concerned with this response as they believe it'll lead to -
"Why don't you do something about it then". The majority of
people won't respond this way if they realise that you're a
reasonable and caring person.
If they do, then continue empathising and tell the customer what
you'll do about the situation. "I'll report this to my manager"
or "I'll do my best to ensure it doesn't happen in the future".
Make no mistake about it; customers, be they internal or
external, are primarily driven by their emotions. It's therefore
important to use human responses in any interaction particularly
when a customer is upset or angry. If customers like you and
feel that you care, then they're more likely to accept what you
say and forgive your mistakes.
About the Author
Alan Fairweather -"The Motivation Doctor" - is the author of
"How to get More Sales Without Selling" To Discover how you can
generate more business without having to cold call, and to
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