All of us know that great customer relationships are difficult to establish, but easy to ruin when we say the wrong things. There are many more suggestions that I could list, these can be implemented immediately.
Say, “Yes, we can or here’s what that will cost.” Maybe, what the customer asked for was possible, but would have been a real pain to pull off. You should price unusual requests accordingly because, if you can make a decent profit or sale, why not? Making a profit is why you’re in business.
“Are you sure?”
Customers are sometimes wrong. Never directly doubt their statements or their feelings because it tends to an already bad situation a lot worse. Instead ask questions or seek to better understand. Try something like this, “Can you walk me through that one more time so I can make sure I can take care of what went wrong?” This validates the customer’s position while helping you keep the conversation objective and solution-focused.
“What you should do is…”
Don’t tell them what to do because they came to you because they want help. Even worse is, “That’s against our policy.” Maybe it is against your policy… but if the customer wasn’t aware of the policy ahead of time, who cares? Any terms or conditions not spelled out in advance are irrelevant to the customer. Imagine you’re a customer who finds out after the fact that special order items can’t be returned – how would you feel? Refer to policies or conditions when the customer is fully aware and agrees to those conditions; otherwise, find a way to fix the problem. Unstated policies are your problem, not the customer’s.
Maybe this is just a pet peeve, but I’m always irritated when, say, I ask wait staff for dressing on the side and they say, “No problem.” I know he means “yes,” but “no problem” still implies I really am causing a problem. When I’m the customer, my patronage of your business is not doing me any favors, so never imply that you are. Replace “no problem” with “yes.”
“Let me try to do that…”
Customers care about results, not effort, so tell them what you will do. “Trying” creates greater uncertainty, and uncertainty is the kiss of death to a customer relationship. If a client requests an accelerated delivery, say, “I’ll call our distributor and get the best schedule possible.” All you can do is all you can do. Don’t imply you’re working extra hard on their behalf by “trying.”
“Let me know if you have any other problems.”
If a customer comes to you with a problem and you think you’ve resolved that problem, great. But don’t expect the customer to contact you if other issues pop up. You should follow-up a couple of days later to make sure all is still well. Solving a customer’s problem meets expectations; following up to see if they need further assistance exceeds expectations.
“I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
Maybe you will… but in the meantime the customer is left wondering what “soon” means. Always specify a time and date. If the due date arrives and you don’t have all the information you need, contact the customer and say so. Then, set a new due date. Positively manage the customer relationship and expectations.
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