Customer Issues … 4 Colossal Issues

Customer Problem ResolvedI two recent posts on resolving customer issues, I presented some issues and offered some solutions. This is another serving of some colossal customer service issues.

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.” [Create a queue card with your custom response.]

Suggested Variation – “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. Since you are reluctant to discuss options that we can both live with, I have no alternative other than to proceed with the original agreement which means that …” [Create a queue card with your custom response.]

Incomplete Paperwork
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.” [Make a queue card with your custom response.]

Personality Conflict
Sometimes a personality conflict may seem to exist between you and your customer or client. This is evident when various blocks and barriers arise during your interactions and you cannot break through those barriers no matter how hard you try. When this occurs, it may mean that you have not spent enough time with the customer in the discovery stage and suggestions and options may have been presented prematurely. The customer or client may be preoccupied and not fully attuned to your recommendations. At this point it may be best to come to a complete stop and decide if you should continue or reschedule the discussion. This type of situation requires you to be very objective and control your tone of voice. If you have worked hard to achieve an acceptable result your frustration and increasing impatience may show through, unless you exercise significant self-discipline.

Suggested Response – “Mr. Howard, we seem to have run into a dead end. I am not sure how to proceed. What do you suggest?” [Create a queue card with your custom response.]

No Authority to Act
The customer or client tells you that he or she will not accept your solution and suggests an alternative. It is important to take the suggestion seriously and to pursue it to the next level. Explain the situation and suggestion to your supervisor and courteously acknowledge your customer’s or client’s contribution. If your supervisor decides to approve the request, tell the customer or client, “I am glad you brought that to my attention. I did not know we could do that. We both learned something today.”

Suggested Response – “Ms. Powers, I had not considered that as an option. Let’s discuss it with my supervisor to determine if that is a course of action that we can pursue.” [Create a queue card with your custom response.]

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Seven Ways to Ensure Excellent Customer Service

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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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