For all the cash you spend preparing your staff, the pinnacle of customer service is all in what you tell disgruntled customers and how you say it. Teach them these fundamental lessons, and you’ll be able to win back a large portion of your disappointed clients that once seemed hopeless.
Issuing an apology is the easiest and most important expression in sales, and yet many find it so hard to say without them being completely responsible for any wrongdoing or mistake. If your staff cannot utter the words “I’m sorry.” before a customer gets to the point where they either demand to speak to a manager or they walk out without reconciling, then you’ll be setting yourself for failure in the long-term.
Plus, an expression of remorse isn’t an admission of direct responsibility. It’s an announcement of sympathy. A genuine conciliatory sentiment tells your client that you understand that this is an inconvenience for them. An expression of remorse defuses the circumstance and can open a discussion in which you get a chance to analyze why things turned out so badly, with the likelihood of avoiding future issues. That should be the goal, at least.
Sharing the Burden
Every customer should feel like they matter when they commit to making a purchase. Not just the plastic customer greeting and niceties. Make it feel as though you are invested in their happiness as much as your own. When you are optimistic and responsive to all their questions, the customer will not look at you as just a face of the company. Angry customers want to be heard and escalation occurs when they feel ostracized and ignored.
Asking for Input
When it comes to de-escalating a situation, rather than dictating or telling them what’s wrong, ask them “What would you suggest?” as a solution or a meeting somewhere in the middle. This shows them that you are willing to listen to them and come to an agreement. Negotiating with an angry customer can be fruitless, though, so you must try your hardest to redirect their emotions by engaging in small talk and pointing out how easy it is to misunderstand.
Avoid becoming too imposing or patronizing to the customer or they will sniff your tactic out and see it as disingenuous. The best way to avoid that is to maintain a Q&A dialog that doesn’t put them on the defensive, allow them express themselves without being cut off.
Never let your angry customer leave without asking them about doing business in the future. You can word this as something like “Do you have any questions that you wanted to ask us or suggestions for the next time you visit?” This is of course asked when you have completely satisfied all of their current issues with the day’s visit and you just want to make sure they leave with the feeling that their opinions are being heard and considered.
At the end of the day, we all want others to listen, not just hear, what we have to say. That’s typically the root of all angry customer problems, along with genuine flaws or mistakes in their purchase.