In a perfect world, every customer interaction with your business would be stellar. Five-star Google reviews would abound, and the world would be a happy place. But reality tends to rear its ugly head, and sometimes even the best businesses are met with some less-than-stellar customer experiences. These experiences can be discouraging, but they can also be valuable teachable moments for your customer service team. Here are five tips for overcoming a bad customer experience.
1. Address the Complaint Quickly
Before the invention of the internet, customer complaints came in phone calls or written letters. Today, upset or irate customers take to their social media accounts and blogs to express their frustration and anger over a poor customer experience. Such reviews can be devastating to your business and your online reputation. By addressing a customer’s complaint quickly, you can work to prevent negative reviews. You are also assuring the disgruntled customer that you care about their business and that you want them to return.
2. Identify the Root of Their Complaint
Sometimes it may be challenging to determine the root cause of a customer’s complaint about their experience with your company. They may encompass their complaints into a ball of all the bad things that have happened to them lately. Regardless of what outliers may have contributed to their frustration, it is important to respectfully listen to what the customer has to say, especially to the specifics they mention about your business. Your goal is to determine the root of the problem so you can focus on the customer’s specific issue. Whether they were overcharged for a purchase, experienced poor customer service, or your products or services did not meet their expectations, getting to the heart of the problem will allow you to create a more meaningful and specific solution.
3. Take Responsibility for Their Experience With a Heartfelt Apology
Most customers are reasonably level-headed consumers who are not looking for a bad experience. Often a string of events has led to a customer’s frustration that boils over onto the lucky employee on the other end of the phone. It is important to remember this by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment and offering them sincere and genuine apology for their bad experience. A calm, caring agent that helps validate a customer’s concerns is invaluable in smoothing ruffled feathers. Be sure to take responsibility for any contribution your company may have had regarding the issue in question. Every complaint is not your fault, but customers need to know you are aware of your responsibility in the matter.
4. Provide a Tangible Resolution Immediately
Once you have acknowledged the source of the customer’s complaint, the next step is to work quickly to create a tangible resolution. You must strive to resolve the customer’s problem as soon as you are aware of it. The longer it takes to resolve a customer’s issue, the more upset they may become. To consistently offer immediate resolutions to customer complaints, create a system, procedure, or policy for each of the different types of bad customer experiences your business has faced so that you’ll have a go-to way to handle issues as soon as they arise. While an apology is nice, be sure to offer the customer a tangible resolution to their issue in the form of a discount, refund, or complimentary product, depending on the severity of the issue.
5. Empower Your Team to Resolve Bad Experiences
No words are more cringeworthy for a customer service agent than “May I speak with a manager?” These words often mean that a customer is not happy. Adding in the extra levels of seniority and authority often does nothing more than slow things down and get the customer more frustrated. Strive to empower and train your team to be a part of the complaint resolution process so the most common customer complaints can be taken care of and resolved through them instead of escalating to management. It is never easy to be on the receiving end of a customer’s bad experience. But a business that focuses on providing customer service that emboldens its employees to be empathetic, sincere, and in control of offering timely, tangible resolutions to their customers will be well equipped to handle such situations when they arise. And both your company and your customers will be happier for it.