Sep 27, 2019
by Elizabeth Slater
Lately, I have been going through a spate of bad luck when it comes to good customer service.
I have an ongoing problem with American Airlines which after six months is still unresolved despite a slew of emails going back and forth. The thing I found fascinating, I have been an American Airlines AAdvantage flyer for more than 30 years, yet no one at the airline seems to appreciate that.
On top of a lack of customer service, there is all the extra fees companies charge. Consumers need to be very careful about examining exactly what all the fees are before you agree.
We are now charged for things that used to be all part of the service (e.g. I booked a room at a Ramada Inn at what I thought was a good rate until they added a $25.00 non-refundable charge for incidentals. The incidentals turned out to be using the phone in the hotel room. When I told the reservation rep that I would not be using the phone, I was told that the fee has to be paid anyway.
These things are just the tip of the iceberg. There was an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal by Sharon Terlep with the title, “Everyone Hates Customer Service.” This is why. The first sentence tells the story, “Technology lets companies see how badly they can treat consumers, right up until the moment they bolt.”
These days, the companies we deal with know so much about their customers. Many of the larger companies are even using artificial intelligence to gauge customers’ behavior, with software that can analyze a tone of voice and the pace of their speech to determine how upset this person is. If you are angry you may well be routed to agents who are trained in de-escalating conflict and who are warned in advance of the caller’s frustration.
As a smaller business, you probably don’t have the same technology, however, when a customer is frustrated or angry, it is easy to tell by their tone of voice that they are not happy. When this happens in your business, what are the practices that you have in place to ensure that your staff is equipped to deal with these problems?
Look at your customer service from the viewpoint of your customers. What are they looking for when they come into your business, speak to you over the phone or contact you via email? Here are some ideas that will help your business provide the best possible customer service.
• Remember that you are dealing with a real person who may have a lot going on in his/her life. Also, you may not know what they have been dealing with before they got to you. So if they are not as kind or polite as perhaps you think they should be, don’t take it personally.
• Try to learn what their problem is and once they have finished speaking ask a couple of questions or repeat something the customer has said so he/she feels that they have been heard.
• Try to see the problem the way your customer sees it.
• Don’t take offense because you think they are blaming you. At this point in time, you are representing their customer. It is not about you personally.
• If you can help the customer understand that you are on their side, it will help you to avoid any conflict. Additionally, an angry customer will become less angry
• Once the customer has finished speaking, confirm that you understand their problem
• Speak in language the customer will understand. Not everyone is an expert in your product or service.
Assess their level of knowledge before you speak in the language of your particular industry
• Being positive will help the customer feel as if you care about their problem.
• Think about the words you are using.
• Stay in the present and keep your words and tone, authentic and positive, which will create a more positive feeling for both you and the customer.
• Comprehensive knowledge of the business’s products and services will make your job easier and the customer more satisfied.
• Give customers ideas on how they can use your products and/or service that they may not have thought of.
• With excellent customer service, even the most frustrated and angry customer can become a friend of the business and sometimes even a personal friend.
• Until you have had more contact than just one call, don’t assume that this is the way the customer always acts. We all get frustrated all the time and it is not hard to turn people around.
In Short Direct Marketing
Specializing in Customer Service & Sales Training That Works
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