Customers are the best part of running a business. When your items end up in the hands of someone who truly loves what you make it is the best feeling ever. Then there are the times that it isn’t so magical.
Running a business means we get thrown into a lot of different situations that we never imagined. I’m sure we can all think of a customer conflict that we ran into that was especially tiring. I feel you, it happens. However there is no reason why a customer should ever walk away disappointed. You have the power to convert even your toughest customer into a believer.
Stay calm and listen
A complaint can escalate to full blown chaos or be turned into an opportunity. When dealing with someone who is upset the best thing you can do is stay calm, don’t get defensive, put yourself in their shoes and listen. Let them do the talking without interrupting especially if they are angry. The information you will gather will tell you how to handle the situation as well as what they expect you to do. Plus if they fell they were heard it will help ease the tension. Once they had their say work together towards a solution.
Follow up quickly
I had an order that went wrong every way possible. The customer didn’t receive her shipment, she provided the wrong address, the tracking number wasn’t working, and her angry boyfriend kept e-mailing me. Keeping opening communication here saved me.
Keep the customer in the loop about what is happening. A quick e-mail to let the customer know the refund has been issued and when to expect it or to let them know you talked to the post office and they are trying to find the missing package shows the customer that you value their business and you are trying to resolve the problem as fast as possible.
Let them know they are wrong with dignity
This is one of my favorite business practices. We live in a world of the “customer is always right” but sometimes they aren’t. We are all human. We make mistakes. If a customer is in the wrong put yourself in their shoes and show them why they are wrong with dignity and respect.
Having policies lets your customer know what to expect from you otherwise they will create their own idea of what they should expect from you to live up to them. Policies gives you a standard to go by when dealing with conflict however creating the them can be bit of a challenge. Start by checking with the SBA in your area. Laws regarding everything returns, price changes and refunds can change from state to state, but also differ depending on what kind of product or service you offer.
Have policies set in place and make sure that your customer has clear access to them. This could mean posting them in multiple locations in your store, letting your customer know your return policy during a transaction or e-mailing them a copy of your return policy when they order. The easiest way to prevent a conflict is to let people know what to expect.
Every problem is an opportunity is disguise
Remember the customer shipping issues I mentioned? It took three weeks to resolve, but when it was she gave me glowing feedback because she was impressed how far I went to help her and even ordered from me three more times.
Great customer service is rare to find. If you handle a customer conflict with dignity and respect in a timely manner you may have created a greater impact than if it you had a smooth transaction.
Have you ever needed to resolve a customer conflict? How did you handle it, what did you learn? Share with us in the comments!
Meet Samantha Kimble
Samantha is a crafter, toddler wrangler, thrift shop hero, and an a girl learning to live her life without fears. She is a customer service and merchandising guru. You can out more about her on her blog The Philosophy of Kindness.
You nailed the first and most important step in resolving customer service failures: stay calm and listen. Thanks for sharing!
This is excellent. I try to stay calm and usually in my correspondence make sure to sound calm even if I feel otherwise.
Great piece, the key is always resolve the issue rather than palming them off to someone else! Also don’t end up getting into a very visible social media war…and if you do make sure you handle it well…we recently wrote an article on this if anyones interested; http://www.customerserviceguru.co.uk/articles/age-social-media-wars-best-customer-complaints-ever/
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