Training Tuesday:Handling Unhappy Customers

Even the best company, with the best service, will occasionally make mistakes. What matters most is how you handle the situation when issues arise. Your response to a crisis or to your customer’s unhappiness can make or break your relationship with that customer.  Below are some of our top tips to best help a dissatisfied customer.

1. If there’s a crisis, make sure you inform the customer as soon as you can – they’re going to find out one way or another – and no news travels as swiftly as bad news. Contacting them first allows you the opportunity to set the tone and break the bad news in the most productive way possible. This also allows you to maintain control of the situation and offer ways that you’re already willing to help fix their issue.

2. Listen first, react second. You can’t solve the problem if you don’t fully understand it. Listening to the customer also makes them feel understood, and that you care for them. If your customer approaches you with a complaint, don’t interrupt. Don’t become defensive or make judgements until you’ve heard all the facts as the customer sees them. Take them seriously, even if it seems trivial to you, and try to empathize with them.

3. Apologize sincerely. A sincere apology will go a long way with most customers. A simple, but genuine apology can prove that you’ve really listened to them, and you understand how frustrating or upsetting the situation is for them, and you’re going to try to remedy it.

4. Find a way to fix their problem that also works for you and your company. There’s no point in playing the “blame game,” because the customer has already decided to blame you and your company, which means it’s time to take responsibility for the problem and solve it. Let your customer suggest solutions or alternatives. Find out their expectations for a solution and follow that if it is reasonable.

5. After resolving the initial situation make sure to follow up. You should always follow up with the customer to make sure that they are truly satisfied with your efforts and the resolution. It can also be nice to do a little something extra for your customer. It shows that you recognized that they were inconvenienced and you’re acknowledging that with something tangible.


Training Tuesday:Customer Service Tips

Customer service is an essential part of the sales process, even though it may not seem that way at first. Offering your clients and prospective clients excellent customer service is a great way to distinguish yourself from the competition – and it can help you win customers and keep the ones you already have. Below are some tips for improving your customer service and relationships with customers.

  1. Stop apologizing. Instead, start thanking the customer for their patience in letting you handle their issue and resolve their problem. This puts you in a stronger position to be able to keep the customer happy and let’s them know that you are sincere and going to help them.
  2. Use positive language. Each interaction with your clients and prospects is shaped by the language you use. Similar to the tip above to change the way you frame apologies, using positive language can influence the customer to feeling better about working with you and their experience with your company overall.
  3. Manage time appropriately. This pertains not just to managing your schedule to give clients and prospects the time they need, but also to using the time you spend with them wisely. You want to be respectful of their time and yours.
  4. Structure conversations and interactions. Remember that first impressions are important, but so is knowing when and how to close. Being able to end a conversation or interaction naturally, and without neglecting any important components is crucial to successful sales calls and customer service.
  5. Create a smooth experience for the customer. Don’t just be their contact for the sale and then leave them alone. Be available and in contact with them throughout their time working with your company so you can help ensure they have a positive experience. If you can help smooth pain points and transitions, it will not only showcase the value you and your company add, but it will also make them more likely to continue being a customer and to recommend or refer you to other people in their industry.

Obviously, customer service will always be a complex task that can’t be explained or resolved in 5 tips or even 500. It is always a process, and you can always improve your skills, but having a diverse set of tricks up your sleeve will only increase your ability to work with a diverse customer base.


Make sureyour prospects really keep you in mind

For some reason you’re not having success on a sales call.  So, because you think there’s nothing left to do, or because you want to get off the call quickly and painlessly, you simply blurt out:

“Well, please keep us in mind if you ever need any help.”

“Here’s my number, just in case.”

“How about I give you a call in a couple of months to see if anything has changed?”

When I’m the customer, I typically say, “Sure, I’ll keep you in mind”.  I then hang up, and immediately forget that the call ever took place.

The truth is, that customer has no intention of “keeping you in mind”, or “giving you a call if something changes”.  When these ‘bad calls’ happen, there are better ways to wrap them up.

  1. Make a determination if there is any real potential with this particular customer

Clinging to a prospect where there is no real opportunity is a time and money waster.  On the other hand, letting a prospect go when there really is potential is a big mistake too.  You must find out for sure.  Ask something like, “Kim, under what circumstances would you consider switching to another service provider?”  Pay particular attention to that wording.  It’s a question that not only asks if they would ever use someone else, but it also asks for the circumstances that would make this a possibility.  For example, I’ve heard of prospects responding, “I guess if I ever got into an emergency situation and my current provider couldn’t deliver, I’d have to know what my options were elsewhere.”  That gives you the opportunity to take that remark and continue asking questions.

  1. Make sure that you give them something to think about

“Keep us in mind” is a worthless statement.  It’s a waste of words.  If you truly want someone to keep you in mind, you have to give them a reason.  And, that reason usually means matching it into a problem they may experience….a problem that you could solve.  That may prompt them to not only think of you, but to actually give you a call.

What if you know that you can provide your customer with the same or better service they’re currently getting, but you feel sure that you can provide more frequent updates and information that they have said they want and need, and you’re sure that what you offer is better than what they’re getting?  But the prospect hasn’t seen it demonstrated, or doesn’t believe it.  You should end the call with, “I still feel sure that I can help you.  Here’s something to consider: please take the time to review the shipment information and updates you receive from your current provider.  If you feel that you simply aren’t getting enough information, and you’re not getting it when you need it, keep in mind that it’s one of the benefits you’d get from working with me and my company.  Timely updates is one of the benefits we’re known for.  I’ll send you my card to keep on file when you feel you need my help”.

Do your best to never make a liar out of your customer.  Don’t make them say – “Sure, I’ll keep you in mind”, or “Yes, I’d like you to call me back in a couple of months (so you can waste my time again)”.  Determine if there will ever be potential with them.  Give the prospect examples of situations to be on the look-out for when you could help, and make sure that they associate you with that solution.  Then, when they do experience those problems, there’s a greater chance that they’ll think of you.