In my Customer Service Course, I offer numerous suggestions as to how to manage specific situations. In this issue of The Training Shelf, we will discuss three of these issues and some suggested responses, although you should develop your unique custom responses: Customer Refuses to Listen to Reason, Customer Insists on Being Right and Incomplete Paperwork.
Customer Refuses to Listen to Reason
Your customer is so angry the he refuses to hear anything you say. His primary goal seems to be remaining angry with your organization, and enjoying every moment of it. If you believe that you have done everything possible and the customer does not relent, you may say to the customer, that “based on what you have told me thus far, here is what I can do for you.”
In most instances, the customer will see that you are ready to close the matter and arrive at a conclusion based on less than full information. At this point, it becomes clear that the next step is up to the customer.
You may not be able to resolve every complaint brought to you by a customer. You should expect some personal disappointment on occasion and accept that the customer’s view of the complaint cannot be satisfactorily resolved. Verify your assessment of the customer’s position on the matter. Make the customer an offer based on the information that you have.
Suggested Response – “I understand why you feel the way you do. In addition, it sounds like there is nothing I can do to change your impression of our organization. Is that right? However, here is what we can do …..”
Customer Insists on Being Right
In some customer interactions, it seems like their goals are to be right and not listen to anything you say. A technique that is often successful in situations like this is to offer a third alternative. This provides the customer or client a face-saving opportunity. Try to avoid arguing with a customer and remind him or her of the original agreement if the impasse persists. It may become necessary to inform your supervisor of the situation to see if additional alternatives can be developed.
Suggested Response – “Ms. Swartz, I can’t argue with what you have said other than to review our discussion. That would probably be a waste of time for both of us. Let’s assume that we are both right. I’d like to offer an alternative we can both live with.”
This is a situation that could affect you as a customer or a vendor. At one time or another everyone has had to deal with late or non-received payments due to a glitch in either the invoice or the purchase order.
When this matter is brought to your attention, you will generally acknowledge the concern the vendor has for nonpayment and will act on the complaint immediately to get it processed. You review the proper procedure as that also benefits a new person performing that function. Avoid chastising the customer when they fail to follow your procedure.
Avoid statements like, “You should have read the instructions.” The appropriate solution is to provide guidance so that the problem does not occur again. Acknowledge the customer’s point of view and offer immediate assistance and training. The primary goal is to resolve the problem rather than to place the blame on another associate.
Suggested Response – “Mr. Chris, I know the delay in payment has inconvenienced you. If you can help me fill in the information by telephone right now, I will be able to have the payment processed immediately. In the future, when you send in the purchase order (or invoice), please complete lines nine and ten. This will help to process your purchase order (or invoice) within 24 hours.”
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