4 Tips for Customer Service recovery
Apologising to customers without alienating employees
This is a situation that many of us face when dealing with customers on the phone when for whatever reason, the company you are working for just hasn’t got it right.
Micah Solomon’s article below provides some good guidance on apologising to customers without throwing your staff under the bus.
So what is Customer Service Recovery? It’s the ability to recover from a mishap with a client, to recover so successfully that you actually may improve relations with that client.
This involves several steps which I’ll recap here briefly.
4 Tips for Customer Service Recovery
1. Apologise and ask for forgiveness: A real apology, not a fakey fake Im sorry if you feel that way.
2. Review the complaint with your customer: turn your customers, in other words, into your customer service consultants, letting them explain what’s gone wrong in the customer experience in the customers view and what you should do to fix it.
3. Fix the problem and then follow up: Either fix the issue in the next twenty minutes or follow up within twenty minutes to check on the customer and explain the progress you have made.
Follow up after fixing things as well, to show continuing concern and appreciation.
4. Document the problem in detail to allow you to permanently fix the defect by identifying trends.
Getting the apology right
I want to talk today about a hazard you may face with the first of these recovery steps, which is Apologise.
A great apology is emotional, sincere (or sincere sounding), and unequivocal.
The key to an effective apology is to convey to the customer at the outset that youre willing to take her side and share her viewpoint.
However, sincere, unequivocal apologies contain within them a potential pitfall: When employees overhear a manager taking the customers side, dont expect them to be thrilled. (Does my boss blame me? Does she actually believe that idiots version of what happened?)
This is a natural employee reaction, assuming you havent inoculated your staff ahead of time. Which you should be sure to do.
The onus is on the manager here to preemptively convey to employees that whoever speaks with an upset customer is going to empathise with and even amplify the customers side of the story, during that important conversation.
Because this is the first, and most important, step toward getting back on the right foot with a customer.
Take time with your staff to explain that the customer may or may not be right in an objective sense.
Regardless, whoever is speaking with the customer needs to convey complete, even disproportionate, sympathy with the customers viewpoint because the customer is our bossthe customer pays our pay-checks.
Human nature being what it is, this explanation will bear repeating.
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