Graduate Level Service; Turning Lemons into Lemonade
I was sitting there, holding the phone away from my ear to soften the shouting of the customer on the other end. Without having ever met me, this person just about hates me. This is probably the worst-case scenario when you are contacted by a customer/client.
If you’ve worked in customer service or had to manage a customer service team, then you know this is a profession riddled with challenging situations on a daily basis. What often goes unrecognized though, is the opportunity existing in each and every contact.
People most often contact the customer service team when they have a problem. They are usually already angry before they talk to you and their emotions have taken control. They have become focused on a specific detail (left brain activity) and can lose sight of the overall big picture (right brain processing). This can lead to them behaving in a way that isn’t a typical reflection of who they generally are.
Can you think of a time where something didn’t go the way that you had intended or were promised? How did it make you feel? How easy was it to focus attention on other things rather than ruminating over the issue?
So when these upset customers/clients reach out to you, put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your bill was wrong? How would you feel if your order arrived broken?
Empathize with the customer and let them know that you understand how and why they feel the way that they do. Be a human rather than a script speaking automaton. Relating to the customer can get them back to wholebrain thinking, opening up the opportunity to turn a bad situation into a great customer experience.
Deep down, we all know things fail, mistakes are made, and no organization is perfect. However, when we are mad, we become hyper-focused on the issue and cannot realize that this singular negative experience with a company is likely an outlier scenario. If their first contact with a representative is also negative, you’ve just vindicated their narrow-sighted left-brain view and are helping push that view over to their right-brain perspective of the company.
The best customer service agents are able to defuse the emotional bomb first through empathy to help link left and right brain processing from a positive perspective. They convert the focused situation of why they are calling to the larger scope of what the company really is, a dedicated service-driven organization.
“I’m so sorry to hear that you received this high bill. I would definitely feel upset about this if I were you. Let me see what I can do to fix this. We care about our customers' concerns and always want them to have a positive experience.”
Even if you can’t fix their problem, you will convey to them that you truly want to which is half the battle. You show them that you both have the same goal in mind, which is making them a satisfied customer. This leaves a lasting impression with the person and becomes an excellent time to recommend another product or service based on what they already had with you.
While the customer might have called you vowing to never deal with your company again based on a particular issue, excellent customer service can make all the difference. Make sure that you aren't looking at customer service as a cost of doing business, but rather as a business asset. A well trained and managed customer service team can multiply the effectiveness of your business, improve customer retention, and bolster your customer referrals as well.
That customer that was shouting at me...by the end of the call he was thanking me for helping him out and posted on social media and other review sources about how he had a great experience talking to one of the agents at our company.