Resolve Customer Issues … 3 sticky ones!

Customer Problem ResolvedKarl Albrecht and Ron Zemke said that, “In designing services, we need to remember that our logic is not necessarily the same as the customer’s logic and losing sight of the customer’s logic can lead to an introverted organization.”

Those who do not view the services they deliver in holistic terms may focus on procedures and lose sight of the effect they have on the customer. We should establish simple procedures so that our customers are not forced to play departmental pinball to resolve their issues.

How does a person make the intermediate decisions that lead to the final decisions? Let’s review some of the issues that surround customer service.

Customer Misrepresents
You may have a customer service issue and you know that your customer is deliberately misrepresenting the truth. You should manage the matter as a misunderstanding and give your customer a way out of a graceless situation. If you can make or recommend several actions, you may be able to avoid a futile argument about conditions you cannot change. You must avoid confronting lies or other discrepancies merely to prove the customer is a liar. Even if you know that the customer is lying, move on with the business at hand.

Suggested Response -”Mr. Jones, there must have been a misunderstanding of some sort. We have always had a ninety-day warranty on this product, not 18 months. Would you like me to have the service department take a look at it and give you an estimate of the costs for repair?” [Create a queue card for your Custom Response.]

Customer Refuses to Deal with Correct Person
The customer may have had a negative experience with a particular person in the organization or department and refuses to go back to that associate, even though that person is the one with the answers to solve the service issues. This may be difficult to handle. It may be necessary to reroute the customer to someone with the correct answers to the problem even if the customer has had a bad experience with that person. My recommendation is to accompany the customer during the problem resolution discussion. The customer will feel that they have an advocate. If you follow this recommendation, the outcome is more likely to succeed. When there are personality conflicts between a customer and other team members, avoid letting your own loyalty to one or the other affect your judgment.

Suggested Response – “Ms. Smith, I’m sorry that you had an unsatisfactory experience with Jean. I wish we had someone else with her expertise to help you, but she is really the expert in the [named] field. What are your ideas on how we might resolve this?” [Create a queue card for your Custom Response.]

The Angry Customer
The telephone rings and you answer it. Without warning, the customer or client begins speaking in a very angry and hostile manner and you do not know why. Take notes so that after the customer has vented you can begin to ask some background questions. Lower your volume level and speak slowly. This will help the customer to reduce the anxiety level.

Rightly or wrongly, you must assume the responsibility for understanding the customer. Your goal is to convert the customer into your helper. As you get the customer to speak more slowly, you also reduce the likelihood of further escalation. When the customer performs non-provocative actions such as repeating a particular statement, the intensity level is reduced.

Suggested Response – “Ms. Walker, I am having a little trouble keeping up with you. Could you repeat that statement and speak a little more slowly so I can be sure that I do not miss anything?” [Create a queue card for your Custom Response.]

Related Article: Customer Retention Is King 

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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