In my 15 years of customer service experience, I have encountered more upset and angry customers than I care to remember. Although each customer was a different person, they all had the same basic need when a disagreement regarding services being provided occurred.
In general, all upset customers want to be heard and feel like someone else cares besides themselves. Learning how to listen and nourish relationships can change both you and your customer’s experience.
By keeping a few simple principles in mind, resolving complaints can go from a nightmare into an enjoyable experience.
Any business can provide good-forgettable customer service, but the businesses that separate themselves from the rest actually lend an ear and show empathy for their customers.
First things first…
If you are not a good listener, become one! Learning how to listen to your customer and noting what has upset them is the first step in transforming an angry customer into a satisfied one. Give your customer your undivided attention, listen to what they are saying, how they are saying it, watch their body language, and most important…how they feel.
*Give your undivided attention. Make sure you are focused on the customer. This means put your phone down and keep eye contact. If you are texting or looking at your computer screen, the customer is not going to feel like you care.
*Listen to what they are saying. When they are speaking to you listen to their complaint and really focus on what they are saying. Avoid coming up with what you are going to say next, and actually, listen to them.
*Watch how they are speaking to you. Understand if the customer is hurt or upset by watching their body language. This can better help you understand their point of view.
After listening to your customer without interruption on your behalf, use the following phrase, “I’m sorry”. It does not matter if was your fault, the customer’s fault, or the neighbor’s dog fault, say it. “I’m sorry”. This phase will continue feeding your customer’s emotional needs and allows you to solve their complaint fairly on behalf of your business and them.
Customers buy or rent good feelings and most of their needs are emotional. Take the extra time to ask the customer how they are doing and build a relationship with them. Share details (appropriate details) about your life too.
Any business can provide good-forgettable customer service, but the businesses that separate themselves from the rest actually lend an ear and show empathy for their customers. They are the businesses that leave a lasting, unforgettable mark they can share with family and friends. Service recoveries are an opportunity not only to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one but also to learn how to improve your business practices for next time.
Christopher Thompson served customers for over 14 years as Customer Service Manager inside the U-Haul Contact Center and currently assists affiliates with database conversions for the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network. He has a wide range of self-storage and customer service knowledge.