Here are four things you can do that will give you control, confidence and success in dealing with customer service issues.
1. Do not become fearful
It is easy to see why some customer service professionals feel as if they must solve every issue, perfectly. And as we all know, it does not happen that way at all. In fact, many times only the most urgent or most troublesome issues get handled in this way. The best professionals know this and do not try to “solve” every issue.
What they do, is offer alternatives. When you try to solve every issue and deal with everything that comes your way, it has a tendency to make you hesitant and fearful after a while because you have found that you cannot handle every situation. Once you have lost that confidence, it’s all over. Like a Popsicle on a hot sidewalk, you just melt away.
The goal is to have several alternatives that you can offer. In some cases it may not address the entire situation. What it does though, is give the customer a chance to make a decision based on their interests.
For example, your customer calls you and says that the billing on your current invoice is incorrect, and in fact they had made a change on their account last month to change a feature that they felt they no longer needed.
You take the call, acknowledge their frustration about making the call, and tell them something like this: “I see where you made the change on your account last month. I would like to take a minute and point out that you have had this feature for the past three years and although I can certainly remove it, I would be remiss if I did not let you know that by removing this feature you would actually be increasing your costs by not taking advantage of the discount this feature provides. Would you still like me to remove it?” The decision is the customers and you have given them an alternative.
It is simple to say and the choice remains with the customer. The very action of providing an alternative gives the customer the service they are asking for. And you remain a valuable resource to them. So, don’t become fearful, become “alternative driven” and watch your customers respond with loyalty and repurchase.
2. Think of ways around it
There is always something you can do. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling your customer that you will follow up with them in one week, personally, and then doing it. Sometimes you will have to make changes in an account status, give a discount, send a gift package, change an order status, provide an expedited delivery date, have someone deliver something, order a new one, provide a loaner service, call the manufacturer and then call the customer back, have the customer meet with a senior manager or CSR, make arrangements for a demonstration and whatever else you have in your toolbox to take care of your customers. Here is the real rub though.
Most of us don’t. We want someone else to make a decision. Don’t wait. Make a decision and follow it through. It’s not only your reputation at stake here, it’s the company’s.
You are acting on behalf of and in the name of your company. They are counting on you to help their customer. Your customer. The one person they are in existence to provide goods or services to. And by you not reaching into your toolbox and pulling out a solution, you are sabotaging the effort. If you don’t have the authority, find out how you can get it. Do that by demonstrating that you want the authority to handle the situation. Don’t get caught up in worrying about making a mistake. It’s better to make a mistake in handling the interests of the customer than doing nothing.
3. Think Practically
It’s a matter of common sense. Yours. You have to think in terms of what is best for the customer and how you can best accomplish it. I like to do of this by applying a three step process.
A. Does it provide a solution or service that requires a minimum of effort and fuss by the customer?
B. Can it be accomplished in the time frame required by the customer?
C. Can you implement it? Immediately?
Your goal is to provide a service solution which is seamless and smooth. Think of it as giving a present to someone in a package that is attractive to look at and contains something they want or need. Now make the package easy to open and filled with goodies. Lastly, make the present easy to use and returnable. Every time you provide a solution or service, think of it a giving a present.
4. Think Patience
Real patience comes from you allowing your customer to tell you what is going on in their own time. All too often we get caught up in providing the solution or service in our time not in the customers. You might start by practicing active listening skills.
This skill requires you to be quiet, turn off your judgments, pay attention and stop texting, e-mailing and talking to someone else. By practicing these “moments of patience” you can actually begin to listen and hear what is really going on. Then you can take a minute and think “How would I want this situation handled?” and “How does my customers want this situation handled?” Focus on the customer first.
You can also ask “How long would I want my Mom to wait in this situation?” or “How long would I want my Grandparents to wait in this situation?” These are easy questions to ask and sometimes difficult to answer.
By taking the time to listen first and act second, more often than not, you get it done right the first time and provide your customer with the solution or service they really need.
If you follow these simple steps, you can have control over the situation and confidence that you can handle any customer issues that come your way.
About the Author
Leonard Buchholz is a Certified Trainer, Speaker and Author. Seminars include subjects like Customer Service, Management and Communications.