irate customer

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

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


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 Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

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

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


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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Dealing with the Issue of Blaming – 9/11/18

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He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven.

A bad workman blames his tools.

Blame is like the lightning; it hits the highest.

Let’s talk about blame. Often in the world of customer service, we are responding to an issue or a complaint, and usually there is a cause for that complaint. Highlighting the cause, if done incorrectly, often includes blame. But we need to understand what blame does and does not do.

Blame does not move someone closer to a resolution. Blame does not build rapport and relationships. Blame does not keep the issue from arising again. Blame does not keep the conversation in an even and professional tone. Blame does not allow for acceptance of personal responsibility by the “blamer.”

Instead, blame can be like the lightning. It can cause the damage. It can make a loud noise. It can create an adversarial situation or adversaries. It can cause us to look at others or at other things to identify what they did wrong instead of looking at ourselves for what we could do differently next time.

In other words, blame doesn’t really get us anywhere. And when you are in a difficult situation with a customer or a coworker, you need to get SOMEWHERE. You need to find some common ground. You need to figure out how to move forward. You need to find some kind of a solution or some kind of a way to a next step. You need to figure out how to maintain or build a relationship.

When dealing with difficulties with others, avoid blame. Don’t blame the tools or the dance floor.

Look for positive and productive ways to move forward.

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