By Ava Lucanus
Businesses are becoming increasingly technology driven with automated systems designed to improve customer experiences. But when things don’t go as planned and the human connection is the only way to resolve the situation, customers are feeling increasingly let down in the experiences they are receiving.
The human connection
The human connection is becoming more important than ever and it’s crucial that your people know how to communicate the message that you want to convey. Thing is, with increasing volumes of Gen Z’s at the frontlines of organisations people skills are not so common anymore. Gen Z’s have been raised in a digitised world and while they are savvy with technology, there can be challenges with the soft skills required in managing the nuances of customer service.
Customer Service is all about how we communicate the message… what we do and what we say. And because we all have our own unique way of viewing a situation, it can be very subjective. Your customer’s reality of a situation is often very different from your own.
Most customers are reasonable people like you and me, but when we feel aggrieved and the situation is not managed effectively, that’s when things can go very pear shaped.
Customer expectations unmet.
Difficult customers and situations usually occur because some part of our core service has failed, or your customer perceives it to have failed. We’ve not delivered on time, your customer has received the wrong product or service, it doesn’t work, or it’s just not what your customer expected.
Studies show that if you resolve a complaint quickly and with little fuss on the part of your customer, 9 out of 10 customers will buy your product or use your service again.
So how do you manage your customers in a sticky situation and ensure it doesn’t turn into a full-blown complaint? Firstly, it’s important to understand the top 5 things that turn your customers off.
1. Different Points of View
You may think your customer is making too much of a fuss over a situation. You may be thinking What’s the big deal, we’re fixing it! The thing is, it may be a big deal for your customer…and they want you to appreciate that.
Approach every situation from your customer’s experience by putting yourself in their shoes. What have they experienced? How has it impacted them? They’ll usually tell you that if you listen to them. By showing empathy it shows that you care, and it will become easier for you to achieve a resolution.
2. Don’t Listen
You may start problem solving too early before allowing your customer to vent their feelings or explain the impact of the issue on them. Some customers are not open to answering questions until they have sufficiently explained their situation from their point of view.
You need to show the customer that you’re listening by not interrupting while they download, to give them the opportunity to feel heard. Once they’ve finished, validate their feelings by saying something like, ‘I’m sorry you had that experience, I can imagine how frustrating that would have been’. Then paraphrase what you’ve heard to clarify your understanding and your intent to help and take quick action.
3. Bad Attitude
When your customer arrives with a bad attitude it’s easy to become defensive and react negatively. Thing is, you’ll never win an argument with a customer. Your attitude will either inflame or de-fuse a situation.
Generally, customers mirror your attitude. So always stay calm and remember, that you don’t know what that customer has experienced before they contacted you.
When you respond with calmness and empathyyou are setting the tone of that interaction. Good overcomes bad. It becomes difficult for the customer to continue projecting their bad attitude onto you while you are maintaining a great attitude with an intent to help.
4. Trigger Words
There are certain trigger words that may make your customer more difficult to deal with. These words can send your conversation around in circles and your head in a spin wondering why.
Words like Unfortunately, Sorry but, I’ll have to, You’ll have to, and No problem…when they clearly is a problem, all invalidate your customer’s point of view and can put them into a negative mindset, escalating the situation fast. Even your organisational or industry jargon can have a negative effect on a customer interaction if they don’t understand it.
Always speak to your customer’s level and think about the words you use to consider starting sentences with a positive spin. This will help you portray a “can do” attitude and will help you to achieve quicker resolutions.
5. Don’t Care
What happens when you receive a transferred call and it’s not for you or your area? How do you manage this situation with a frustrated customer? Don’t start with something negative like ‘I can’t help you’ or ‘you’ve come through to the wrong area’ as if it’s your customer’s fault.
To alleviate your customer’s frustration, it’s vital that you use the right words and show some empathy.
Say something like I’m sorry that you’ve been transferred to me by mistake I’ll do my best to find the right person to help’
Customers will assess the level of your service based on how well you recover from a difficult situation, and if you do it well, they are much more likely to forgive you.
Latest research suggests 83% of executives feel that poor customer experience presents them with considerable revenue and market share risks. Yet only one in three feel prepared to address the problem. So it makes sense to ensure your people are skilled in this vital area to maintain your competitive edge.