irate customer

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy – 4/9/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to feel your empathy can help to defuse the situation.

But to make the customer feel your empathy, you not only have to empathize, but you’ve also got to convey that to the customer. So, work on these key empathy actions to S.E.N.D. the right message:

  • Stop – Stop what you’re doing (e.g., paperwork, computer work, working on equipment, looking at cell phone, etc.). It makes them feel like you are their one priority at that time – that you want to understand.
  • Eyes – Make positive eye contact. It ensures that you’re not appearing distracted or upset. You appear focused on them.
  • Nod – Occasionally nod when they say something with which you agree. You’re showing you’re not a brick wall, like someone disagreeing “inside” even though you’re not verbally arguing. Instead, it shows you’re being understanding of their situation.
  • Document – Take a few notes as they talk. It conveys that what they have to say is important enough for you to get the facts/information right (FYI – Tell them why you’re writing so they don’t feel you’re doing other work.).

 

S.E.N.D. the right message. Convey empathy with your actions.

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Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies – 1/22/19

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Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was one of the first to wear a giant blue wig, exemplifying his craziness over his school’s team. You could see him coming from a mile away – or pick him out of a crowd of thousands, all because of the wig.

For us in customer service, we work with customers, and most are reasonable people who you can have reasonable discussions with about important topics, and you can come to a reasonable resolution. But then, you always have a few “Customer Crazies;” unfortunately they don’t wear giant blue wigs, so you can’t see them coming a mile away.

One such customer went to a local restaurant, was infuriated when the new owners of an establishment didn’t honor a coupon from the prior owners. The new owners tried to offer other free options in place of the coupon, but the customer stormed out. The customer later posted negative reviews on social media. The problem with the reviews was that the restaurant had proof (including video) that the customer wasn’t telling the truth.

Most of us have run into this situation, too. It’s the upset customer, or it’s the customer trying to get a freebie, or it’s the customer just outright telling falsehoods to get what they want.

Keep in mind that you only have control over half of conversations with customers. You can control what you say, how you say it, and what action you take; but you cannot control the customer. If you’ve done all you can do, sometimes feel good about what you’ve done even if the customer doesn’t seem to feel good about the outcome.

You can only control what you can control. Don’t dwell on what you can’t control.

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies.

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Love is never having to say you’re sorry – 11/6/18

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Love Story – great movie. Alli McGraw. Ryan O’Neal. And a surprisingly poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but I digress. The most famous line from the movie is “Love is never having to say you’re sorry…”

Unfortunately, great customer service isn’t about love, per se. Many customers want to hear “I’m sorry” before they can settle down, move on, and forgive/forget.

So how do you say I’m sorry?

The Terrible Transfer – Let’s say that you answer the phone, and the customer immediately tells you they’ve already been transferred 4 times. Consider saying “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s not how we like to do things around here.” Then do the following; either: (A) Make sure you personally take care of the need, (B) Make a “warm” transfer once you identify the employee who can help and that they’re available, or (C) Offer to take their contact information and call them back with the answer.

The Technology Troubles – Let’s say that a customer is trying to understand how to use some technology platform your company provides or navigate your website, and they’re having issues. Consider saying: “I apologize for the difficulties in getting the system working.” You could then offer to walk them through the process on the phone, staying on the line until it works; you could offer to visit them to educate them on the process; you could also provide documentation on the key steps to getting their need addressed.

The Protracted Process – Maybe it’s a situation where a process is taking way too long (whether they want to get an application approved, get a meeting scheduled, get a return or request addressed). You could state: “Sorry that the process it taking longer than anticipated. I’ll personally make sure we get this addressed quickly.” After you’ve received details on the situation, take 2 approaches. First, immediately work on the issue and/or bring in someone to get the need addressed. Second, communicate actions to the customer while the process is in place (to manage expectations and keep them in-the-loop) and when the process is completed (to ensure they know the process was done and to confirm satisfaction).

Unfortunately, great customer service DOES MEAN that sometimes you have to say you’re sorry.

Handle apologies with aplomb.

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